Tigertail is one of the many films that are now on offer on streaming services, if you are really missing new releases due to all the cinemas being closed. This time, for the first time, I am reviewing a film available on Netflix, which will be useful for you all because I’m sure you all have Netflix. Tigertail is the newest Netflix Original for the platform, which has had a mixed output over the past year – with great hits like The Platform, Miss Americana and the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before sequel, but also misses like Horse Girl and Love Wedding Repeat.
Tigertail is set in two different time zones and focuses on a Taiwanese man called Pin-jui, played by Hong Chi-Lee as a young man, and Tzi Mu as a middle-aged man. In the past, Pin-jui is a enthusiastic factory worker, who leaves behind his homeland and his forbidden love, Yuan (Joan Chen in the past; Yo-Hsing Fang in the present) to move to America with his arranged wife, Zhenzhen (Kunjue Li; Fiona Fu), and make a live for himself. In the present, Pin-jui is a melancholic middle-aged man, who has a estranged relationship with his daughter, Angela (Christine Ko), and begins to feel regretful and mournful for his life choices.
Tigertail is, overall, one of the better Netflix Originals to come out recently. It is not as entertaining or exciting as some recent Netflix Originals, especially The Platform, but that’s not an insult about the film at all. The film is instead, quite a sweet and soulful film that will really relax you. It would be a perfect film to watch on an relaxing Sunday afternoon, especially in light of everything that’s going on in the world right now.
One of the real strengths of the film is the film’s glorious visual style. The film is directed by Alan Yang, who has previously been known for his work on comedy television shows, including Parks and Recreation, The Good Place and most famously, Master of None, the latter of which he won an Emmy for. The film is beautifully shot, with really wonderful gorgeous cinematography and vibrant colours.
The film also has a really nice soundtrack, which much like the film, is sweet and soulful that leaves a lingering feeling. Also, the editing and montages in the film are also wonderful. In particular, there is a scene where Pin-jui, in the past, is constantly closes and reopening the shop where he works at, and this scene is really gloriously edited. Everything in how this film is made, from the direction to the cinematography to the editing is really wonderful, especially because this is Yang’s first feature film.
The performances are also wonderful. None of the performances are particularly big, dramatic, or emotional, but instead, they are quite restrained and understated, which really fits in with this kind of film. Mai heads up the cast very well, especially in how small and detailed his performance is. He bridges the gap between the present and past sections very well. Also, the younger performers, Chi-Lee, Li, Fang and Ko are all equally as impressive.
The themes in this film are fairly familiar and we’ve seen them in numerous films before, but that’s not to say they aren’t effective. In the film’s present-day sequences, it deals with themes of getting older, dealing with regrets and mistakes you’ve made, and repairing relationships with estranged family members; while, in it’s past sequences, it addressed themes of moving away from your homeland, losing your one true love, and homesickness. In particular, the arc of Pin-Jui’s wife, Zhenzhen is particularly interesting, especially for a character that could of been one-dimensional. During the film, we see her become homesick and bored at her new life, and through really lovely scenes, we see her form a friendship the only other person nearby who speaks Taiwanese, her neighbour Peijing (Cindera Che).
Although, the film is really great, sweet and soulful, the film could still be a bit more emotional. The film feels very reminiscent to recent films, like Moonlight (2016) and The Farewell (2019), in how quiet and passionate the film is. However, unlike these films, the film fails to hit you with it’s really sentimental and emotional undercurrents. Possibly, with the film’s length only at 90 minutes, it could of benefited from a longer run-time.
Overall, however, this film is definitely worth your time. If you are looking for a lovely and sweet film that is not too heavy or depressing, then you should definitely watch this film. And make sure not to get it confused with Tiger King, which is a very different watch. I really can’t wait to see what Yang does next.