Cities of Last Things
Three actors portray one tortured Taiwanese police detective in this sci-fi-tinged noir, told in reverse-chronological order, about the significant events that led him down a path of retribution.
"An ambitious and, finally, touching new work from director Ho Wi Ding"—The Hollywood Reporter
An older man lies in a pool of blood on a damp nighttime sidewalk as a robot drone roams overhead. But who or what was responsible? And what chain of events led to his fate? In Cities of Last Things, Taiwan-based director Ho Wing Ding rewinds the dark and compelling life of Zhang Dong Ling, accompanying him on three nights across three ages in a single city through three interconnected vignettes: a lonely, world-weary man seeks revenge; an upright policeman is betrayed, and stumbles upon love; and a teenager, caught on a stolen scooter, grapples with his family history. In all, Zhang struggles stubbornly against a wet, inky-black city, which threatens to infect him with its violence and corruption. From science fiction, which evokes the gritty, dystopian aesthetic of Blade Runner and Minority Report, to an engrossing crime drama and a romance, all tied together by an ambient, Max Richter-esque score and rich cinematography, Wing Ding crafts an absorbing narrative of transience and isolation, of finding one's place in a cold concrete jungle. Though each vignette could stand separately as a short film in its integrity and depth, the genre-traversing whole is impressively cohesive, as Zhang navigates the gloom in an auto bus, races through the streets on the back of a motorcycle, sprints along empty sidewalks and alleys, and searches for fulfillment in an inhospitable world.
Born in Malaysia, Ho Wi Ding graduated from the New York University film school, directed TV commercials in Taiwan, and is still based in Taipei. His shorts Respire and Summer Afternoon were both selected for the Cannes Film Festival.
Sponsored by Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles, Ministry of Culture, Cathay Pacific Airways Limited, Taiwan, Wild Ginger
- Original Language Title: Xing Fu Cheng Shi
- Director: Ho Wi Ding
- Principal Cast: Lu Huang, Hong-Chi Lee, Louise Grinberg, Jack Kao, Ning Ding
- Country: Taiwan, China, France, USA
- Year: 2018
- Running Time: 107 minutes
- Producer: Ho Wi Ding, Hu Chih-Hsin, Winnie Lau, Alexis Perrin, Ronan Wong, Chen Shih-Yong
- Screenplay: Ho Wi Ding
- Cinematographers: Jean-Louis Vialard
- Editors: Ho Wi Ding, Lee Huey
- Music: Robin Coudert
- Awards: Toronto International Film Festival 2018 (Platform Prize), Golden Horse Film Festival 2018 (Best Supporting Actress)
- Filmography: Beautiful Accident (2017); Our Sister Mambo (2015); Pinoy Sunday (2009)
- Language: Mandarin, English
- Has Subtitles: Yes
- International Sales: Wild Bunch