FILM REVIEW: White Tunnel 白色隧道
It is an April day with capricious weather. A taxi driver is taking four distant siblings to visit their mother. On the road, tension seems to loom from the silent air in the car.
Director: Chang Chin-Wei, Chien Lan-Chi
Cast: Chen Shu-Fang, Tsai Ming-Hsui
Language: Taiwanese Hokkien
Review by Jean Wong
Situated in a colourless world, White Tunnel (2017) is a gorgeously artistic film that touches on life in an original manner. With a stunning screenplay, White Tunnel meticulously unravels the story through heavy visual cues rather than dialogue to express to the viewer what is happening.
The stylistic choice of making the film black-and-white, which is rare for an animated movie in this day and age, serves to highlight the harsh shadows that threaten to overtake most scenes. Coupled with the use of minimal music and dialogue, this lends a cold atmosphere to the whole film and notifies viewers of its impending solemnity.
Just as the film takes on a cold atmosphere, the characters in the film do too. Though the driver seems to be a relatively amiable person, his reactions in the film are passive at best. Likewise, his customer shows a cold attitude through her interactions with not only the driver, but also her siblings, as she regards them with a rude demeanour. The distant and hostile attitude of all the siblings, even towards their mother, arouses curiosity as to why the characters are this way and what happens in the end. Despite the silence that looms over the film, or perhaps because of it, the viewer is able to sense the palpable tension that stiffens the atmosphere.
In the beginning of the film, the driver shares a quote: “You are in control of the steering wheel, but you have to follow the directions where people tell you to go.” As the film goes on and the driver finds himself entangled in the siblings’ affairs, it becomes clearer that the line hints at a metaphor for life.
White Tunnel is a film that seems to be an observation of life packaged in this quaint story of a driver and four siblings. Just like the driver, it is often up to us to decide how to react when life throws curveballs at us. More than just a film with great art direction, White Tunnel is a beautiful manifestation of such a reminder.
About Kaohsiung Shorts
高雄拍 (Kaohsiung Shorts) aims to make Kaohsiung the Taiwanese short film base, to discover and showcase new short films that break the norms, boundaries and stereotypes through the use of media. Started in 2012 by the Kaohsiung Film Archive, Kaohsiung Shorts is a short film grant that aims to encourage film talents to be based in Kaohsiung and be inspired by the city. Films created under this programme will be having their Taiwan premiere during the Kaohsiung International Film Festival. Since 2015, short films created under the Kaohsiung Shorts have been showcased in other countries such as Hong Kong, France, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.