Billed as a travelogue across Taiwan, Leading Lee’s (李鼎) second feature, Anywhere, Somewhere, Nowhere (到不了的地方), is, in reality, a personal search for one’s roots and identity.
The largely autobiographical account of the director’s cross-country trip with real-life swimming coach Hsu Chun-hao (徐君豪) adheres to the framework of a road movie, in which the hero struggles to tackle loss through self-discovery. The film’s uncertain attempt to address the theme of gay love suggests, however, a less-than-honest attempt to create what seems to be the cinematic confession of a troubled son.
Based on a travel book written by Lee and Hsu of a six-month journey in 2004, the film follows commercial director Lee Ming (Austin Lin, 林柏宏) and swimming coach Taike (Bryant Chang, 張睿家) as the two ride across the island on a motorbike. Having just lost his army officer father (Tou Tsung-hua, 庹宗華), who died due to a neurological disorder, Lee Ming longs to revisit a restaurant where they ate during a childhood trip to Taroko Gorge (太魯閣). Taike, on the other hand, is a runaway groom who dreams of swimming with flying fish on Lanyu Island (蘭嶼).
Photo Courtesy of Applause Entertainment
When they arrive at Taroko Gorge, however, the restaurant has closed. Disappointed, they continue their journey south to Jioumei (久美), where they learn about the Thousand Year Suspension Bridge (千歲吊橋), a story about a Japanese officer and an Aboriginal princess who jumped to their deaths nearly a century ago because their love was prohibited.
They then travel to Lanyu and make friends with the island’s residents, who hail from the Tao (達悟) tribe, and newcomers from Taiwan’s mainland. Throughout the journey, Lee Ming keeps returning to the same question: where is home?
Unevenly executed and, at times, messy, the film nevertheless clings to its motif of home, ingeniously connecting the protagonist’s search for the lost father with his rediscovery of the land. A son of a soldier forced to flee to Taiwan with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) army, the character of Lee Ming travels to remote towns, villages and indigenous tribes to seek traces of the deceased and, during the process, is able to gain insights and strength to reconcile with his family.
The often overwrought dialogue and flowery language that made Lee’s debut feature My So Called Love (愛的發聲練習) disastrous, strangely fit the tone of the autobiographic work, as they are more like reflections of the protagonist’s inner soliloquies and deliriums as he struggles to deal with his great loss.
Fantasy and dream sequences often reveal hidden emotions. The sequence that involves the love between the indigenous princess and her Japanese lover, for example, not only touches upon the country’s colonial past but mirrors the implicitly felt because never admitted attraction between the two travel buddies. There is an undercurrent of homoeroticism throughout the film, in which Chang’s character can always find excuses to take his shirt off and display his well-toned body.
While gay identity marks the narrative, Leading Lee’s dubious reluctance to go further than showing harmless banter between the two men leaves the story partly underdeveloped and plots unexplained. In the end, Anywhere, Somewhere, Nowhere feels unfinished, missing its chance to become an admirably honest work.
Anywhere, Somewhere, Nowhere 到不了的地方
Directed by: Leading Lee (李鼎)
Starring: Austin Lin (林柏宏) as Lee Ming, Bryant Chang (張睿家) as Taike, Tou Tsung-hua (庹宗華) as the father
Language: In Mandarin and Japanese with Chinese and English subtitles
Running Time: 124 MInutes
Taiwan Release: Today
By the end of last year, over 150,000 migrant workers in Singapore had been infected with COVID-19, roughly 47 percent of its migrant worker population. Their lives, already under harsh control in situations worse than in Taiwan, came under even stricter rule. Whole dorms were quarantined and even healthy workers were allowed out only infrequently, to shop in designated shops and, of course, to work. To its credit, the government did force employers to pay workers, and gave them medical care and support. Yet, in the end, the Singapore worker outbreak underwrote even tighter controls on the migrant worker population. Many
Joseph Liu chose Norway for his legal studies because he wanted to learn more about human rights. But instead, he’s been fighting the Norwegian government for the past four years for the right to use his national identity. Following a diplomatic row with China in 2010, Norway changed the nationality of its Taiwanese residents to “Chinese.” Liu and others launched the My Name, My Right movement to raise funds and pressure the authorities to change the country designation back to Taiwan. They eventually took the case to the Norwegian supreme court, where they lost in November last year. While the outcome
Kaohsiung’s National Sun Yat-sen University (國立中山大學) has one of the most idyllic settings of any university in Taiwan. Away from the bustling city center on the far side of Monkey Mountain, also known as Chaishan (柴山) and Shoushan (壽山), the buildings in this tranquil setting are blessed with unobstructed views of Kaohsiung Harbor and the Taiwan Strait, not to mention glorious sunsets. In fact, this area was so beautiful that former president Chiang Kai-Shek (蔣介石) established a villa here for his personal use, preventing the average citizen from entering the area for decades. After his passing in 1975, the Kaohsiung City
With droves of Taiwanese Americans reportedly bolting stateside on “vaccine tours,” the issue of transnational healthcare opportunism is back in the public eye. If you’re wondering if that’s a real thing, well, while I believe I may have just coined the phrase, the phenomenon it describes has been controversial since Taiwan’s superb National Health Insurance (NHI) system was launched in 1995. “Editorials of major Taiwanese newspapers — such as Apple Daily, United Daily News, United Evening News and the Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times) — have criticized overseas Taiwanese for manipulating public health insurance