Tigertail (2020)
91 min|Drama|10 Apr 2020
6.6Rating: 6.6 / 10 from 3,844 usersMetascore: 65
In this multigenerational drama, a Taiwanese factory worker leaves his homeland to seek opportunity in America, where he struggles to find connection while balancing family and new-found responsibilities.

Tigertail is a drama directed by Alan Yang, which is his feature film debut after a successful television career. This Netflix production film stars several Asian American players, such as Tzi Ma, Christine Ko, and Joan Chen. Films that revolve around immigrants from Asia who live in the US are relatively rare. Tigertail presents it through a simple and touching story.

Taiwan. Pin-jui is having an affair with his childhood girlfriend Yuan. However, Pin-jui’s dream is to bring his mother and Yuan to America. His ambition to bring Pin-jui eventually married Zhenzhen, the daughter of the boss of the factory owner where he worked and sacrificed his true love. After moving to the United States, the ups and downs of life flowed until he grew older who is now lamenting the emptiness of his life.

Its simple story is uniquely interspersed with flashbacks from time to time. At certain moments the flow seems to be presented as “nonlinear”. Although moving to the present and the past, the audience still easily understands the timeline of the story. The present and the past complement each other harmoniously to provide story information to the audience. The editing side has indeed become its strength that supports the script. A unique montage is presented when Pin-jui closes and opens his shop to show his monotonous daily life in the US.

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It seems, its cinematography has no special features because many of its shots are static and rigid. However, behind this is stored many motives in his shot. Old pin-jui often depicted his figure who was alone with reinforced interior setting frames as if he was confined in a closed room. At the beginning to the end, Pin-jui when with the princess, there is almost no shot they are in one frame, if anything, their distance is always far apart (or blur effect). In the final segment, Pin-jui and Angela’s shots are surprisingly almost entirely in a single frame that is close together. This film can be a textbook for learning a visual language.

With a simple and elegant aesthetic style, Tigertail presents a touching drama about family and dreams. Not until the end, we only know that Huwei, the city where Pin-Jui and his mother live means “Tigertail”. No matter how successful a person lives in a foreign country, still, his hometown is an inner experience that cannot be released. “Tigertail” for Pin-jui is a life lesson to appreciate something of value for us not to let go of it simply because of passion and ambition. Tigertail also provides lessons for us, and there is always time to correct the mistakes of life, as long as we can open our souls and hearts. Enjoy watching.

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His hobby has been watching films since childhood, and he studied film theory and history autodidactically after graduating from architectural studies. He started writing articles and reviewing films in 2006. Due to his experience, the author was drawn to become a teaching staff at the private Television and Film Academy in Yogyakarta, where he taught Film History, Introduction to Film Art, and Film Theory from 2003 to 2019. His debut film book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2008, which divides film art into narrative and cinematic elements. The second edition of the book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2018. This book has become a favorite reference for film and communication academics throughout Indonesia. He was also involved in writing the Montase Film Bulletin Compilation Book Vol. 1-3 and "30 Best Selling Indonesian Films 2012-2018." Additionally, he authored the "Horror Film Book: From Caligari to Hereditary" (2023) and "Indonesian Horror Film: Rising from the Grave" (2023). Until now, he continues to write reviews of the latest films at montasefilm.com and is actively involved in all film productions at the Montase Film Community. His short films have received high appreciation at many festivals, both local and international. Recently, his writing was included in the shortlist (top 15) of Best Film Criticism at the 2022 Indonesian Film Festival. From 2022 until now, he has also been a practitioner-lecturer for the Film Criticism and Film Theory courses at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Institute of the Arts in the Independent Practitioner Program.


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