Tsai Ming-liang’s latest film Ni de lian or Your Face is not necessarily a film as much as it is a long-form piece of video art, or better yet an amalgamation of video and durational performance art. Your Face is an apt title because the film circulates between a series of close-ups on several people’s faces.
In some cases, the people will speak, in others, they will not, in one case, a man snores throughout his entire close-up. Another younger woman tells the story of her upbringing and divorce. Another older woman shows us random tongue and facial exercises that help keep her young. Another old man plays the harmonica. There is no patently obvious flow to the order of the faces in my estimation, and also it’s hard to tell whether or not the subjects of the close-ups are connected in some way.
“…a very fascinating experiment with the human face as the subject...“
The cinematography for the film is meditative and hypnotizing. Never before have I really paid so much attention to every small detail of a stranger’s face. The symmetry or asymmetry of the features, certain moles, the straightness and color of teeth, etc. Sometimes the subjects are purposely set far left or right in the frame, sometimes they’re perfectly centered. Here and there you hear the ambient noise drones of Ryuichi Sakamoto, which perfectly accompany the hypnotizing and meditative nature of the film.
Your Face is definitely not for everyone. I am a little embarrassed to admit that my mind wandered off during the film a few times due to its slow-burning nature and lack of structural narrative. However, it is a very fascinating experiment with the human face as the subject and it’s definitely worth an observation if you are interested in the more avant-garde side of filmmaking.
Your Face (2018) Written and directed by Tsai Ming-liang. Your Face screened at the 2018 New York Film Festival.
7.5 out of 10 stars