2.08.2016

The homosexuals in the text: Norman Atun and Lee Kang-Sheng in "I Don't Want To Sleep Alone" (2007)


I wouldn’t number I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone (2007) among my favorite films by Tsai Ming-Liang, but it contains a moment so emotionally powerful that it stopped me cold.  The film is—in typical fashion for Tsai—a bizarre romance set in a vaguely apocalyptic urban environment, where two men (Lee Kang Sheng and Norman Atun) engage in a wordless, possibly sexless love affair catalyzed by their sharing a mattress in a crowded slum.  When Lee also strikes up a romance with a female nurse who works in the apartment upstairs, Atun’s jealousy is aroused, and in a fit of passion he threatens to cut Lee’s throat with the sharp edge of a tin can.  And then, as Lee’s eyes plead with Atun to spare his life, Atun dissolves into tears.  Lee caresses Atun’s face with his hand; Atun presses it to his mouth as the tears run down his cheeks.  As Tsai’s films come closer and closer to embracing wordlessness (his short film from last year, No-No Sleep, contains no spoken dialogue at all), he becomes more and more attuned to the power of bodily gestures to speak for themselves.  





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