Deep in the mountains, a mother and a daughter live an isolated quiet life. The Daughter (GWEI Lun-Mei from BLACK COAL, THIN ICE) looks lean and fragile. She seems unreactive toward her surroundings, confining herself in her own wretched world. The Mother (LU Yi-Ching) is like a guardian angel who always protects her and takes care of everything.
Before living in seclusion, the Daughter was a pianist who lost her husband and son. The Mother decided to take her away from the city, cutting her off from civilization to live in the mountains where no one could ever find them. She believes this is the only possible way for her daughter to survive. They live off the land, brave the elements and remain confined in an existence devoid of human encroachment. They are completely alone, except for their thoughts, which seem amplified as the Daughter’s past comes back to haunt her.
In the debut feature from KUO Cheng-chui, he posits a film that looks at the striking balance of Taiwan, an island confined between modern urbanization (Taipei) and the spiritual manifestation of nature, of which Taiwan has a great abundance. His two main characters enter a realm which they see as a means of escape, but that in actuality, provides clarity as they shake off the ghosts of trauma and great loss that suffocate them. GWEI Lun-Mei and LU YHi-Ching turn in nuanced performances as a broken daughter and her protective mother, who see nature as a means to an end. But in actuality, it is the beginning of a new journey, especially for the daughter, who must cross a new threshold.
Beautifully shot, with a symbolic soundtrack fueled by the musical compositions of Claude Debussy, the film has a lyrical, impressionistic tone, creating a film that is marked by sensory tones and a dreamscape that captures the magical nature of the forest.
This film is nominated for the Halekulani Golden Orchid Award for Best Narrative Feature.