The Island Tales (2000)
Reviewed by: lordmanji on 2000-12-14
Summary: Vague Notions/ Poor Execution
The Island Tales is an art movie, but it is too artsy for its own good. Often expanding into vague monologue through Haruki, and stranger interactions between the group of people stranded there, it is a confusing movie right up to the end. While there are some understandable elements in there, such as the brewing relationship between Michelle Reis and Julian Cheung, that subject is brought up and dropped just as suddenly to make room for a more obscure theme of people crossing into others' worlds.

The director, Stanley Kwan, mouthfeeds us his themes through Haruki's broad soliloquoys. "This animal is free...yet trapped at the same time," when describing Han. "Let us meet in our own world," when talking to the deceased Marianne. The narrative attempts to further the thematics of Island Tales, but only vaguely presents itself, letting the characters interactions fill in the detail. However, the character's interactions are limited to partying as the quarantine on the island continues, and while they cross into their own worlds, it is so brief that no definitive statement can be ascertained. A possibly intersting scene in fleshing out the characters occurs upon Marianne's death, but just like the rest of the movie, it merely only touches upon her death and the character's reactions to it, where the scene just cuts to an unimportant, unenlightening scene with Mei-ling and her bartender friend.

The movie could have been passable if not for the horrible mostly English dialogue that the characters speak. Marianne being the worst. Sorry to say but when she died, my ears cried in relief.

In summary, the Island Tales is a very confusing, elaborately-made art movie. IT could have been interesting if it had expanded its profound notions of our interactions with strangers and our loneliness, but it merely only touches upon them. What is left are characters left wandering shiftlessly into each other, and once the quarantine ends, much like the movie, the characters shiftlessly apart.