a teenage Taiwanese boy and girl drink coffee in a garden at nightalr

A Confucian Confusion
(Du li shi dai)

Directed by Edward Yang.
With Chen Li-Mei, Chen Shiang-chyi, Chen Yi-Wen.
Taiwan, 1994, DCP, color, 125 min.
Mandarin and Min Nan with English subtitles.
DCP source: Janus Films

A satirical comedy with biting wit and a romance that is equally suspicious of and hopeful about love, this film ambitiously negotiates the coexistence of Confucianism with capitalism and democracy. In what feels like a second take of his Taipei Story, Yang stages a frantic tango that is danced not with two but twelve. A circle of closely knit friends and relatives forms an entangled web of relationships where lost and insecure young professionals (civil servants, accountants, businessmen, publishers, writers, and artists) navigate different emotional scenes in a vibrant Taipei. Following a series of misunderstandings, a pervasive sense of loneliness permeates these densely populated frames, resulting in a deliberate messiness. Intentionally not a guide for the perplexed, Yang’s dazzling world melts pretense, fakeness, authenticity and sincerity into a confounding pool of restlessness.

One of the two least heralded (or screened) films by Edward Yang (the other being Mahjong), A Confucian Confusion’s stylistic and narrative experimentation is in fact fiercer than ever, reflecting his ongoing formal exploration in a diverse oeuvre. Made after directing plays such as Likely Consequence (1992) and Growth Period (1993), A Confucian Confusion conducts, with a bold theatricality, a brilliant investigation into the challenging sedimentations of traditional ideals of social conformity and hierarchy in a modern age of independence.



Part of film series

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Chronicles of Changing Times. The Cinema of Edward Yang

Other film series with this film

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The Taiwan Stories of Edward Yang and Wu Nien-jen