Friday, April 10, 2020

Review: Tigertail

Release date: April 10, 2020
Running time: 91 minutes
Starring: Tzi Ma, Christine Ko, Fiona Fu, Hong-Chi Lee

Tigertail is a film about an ambitious Asian man coming to America and starting a life for himself and his family.  In order to escape a dangerous job and build a better life, young Pin-Jui (Lee) takes a deal to come to America, a deal that will shape his life.  However, when he arrives, he struggles to find a connection to this new country and to his new wife.  He works hard to build a better life, but sometimes it seems like the choices he made might not have been the best. 

Tigertail is told from several perspectives and spans decades.  From Pin-Jui's very young life on a farm, to his time in Taiwan working at a factory, his time in America, and his present day retired life, the story really touches on all aspects of this immigrant's life.  It is told as a series of flashbacks from modern times, as the retired, older Pin-Jui (Ma) tries to look back on aspects of his life to explain his current situation.  A lot of the film is focused on Pin-Jui's adolescence and young adulthood (Lee), and the struggles and choices that were made there.  It is very introspective and both Pin-Jui's do a wonderful job of portraying this man.  The supporting cast are equally great, with a group of characters that are important to Pin-Jui at various times in his life.  They, like Pin-Jui are depicted at various times in their life and the changes in their characters help shape the overall story and Pin-Jui's life.  

Tigertail feels very authentic; I definitely loved seeing some of the family interactions and thinking that those looked and sounded familiar.  There were so many subtle touches that shine through in the film, from the way that Pin-Jui would answer (or not answer), to the need to work hard and succeed, to the way that certain choices from Pin-Jui and his family were explained or criticized, and the fact that many of the family members were reserved and showed little emotion, this felt like an introspective film about Asian life.  But the beauty of this film is that it resonates with anyone.  It is a wonderful film about life's choices and dealing with the ones you've made and those you avoided.  Some of the choices that Pin-Jui makes are probably not the best for him or his family, and the consequences of these are shown in the various timelines that the movie takes place in.  The flashbacks and subsequent realizations are handled subtly, but touchingly.  Pin-Jui's reactions and character progression feel realistic; not a grand Hollywood-ized epiphany, but a short, measured, slow, and stubborn realization about your life.  And in the end, it makes you wonder what could have been for this man and will probably make you question some of your own choices.  

Tigertail is a beautiful, authentic film about life and the many choices that we make along the way.  It is a touching story told with a wonderful cast and an authentic Asian feel. 

Watch it.

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