Tigertail is the story of an immigrant’s journey through life and the choices he makes along the way. It is also a representation of what it means to follow the path best for you; even if it means leaving those you love behind. Then even diving into thinking you’ve done the right thing your whole life, only to discover that may have been wrong.
Most of the film involves Pin-Jui (Tzi Ma), as a lonely father flashing back to his childhood and then failed marriage, wondering where it all went wrong. Estranged from his grown daughter he weighs the balance of circumstance and choice as to where he has ended up. We have seen films like this which explore the awkwardness of arranged marriage, romanticism of young love and the harsh conditions of lower class living. What this film does differently is that it gracefully moulds these milestones of happiness and regret together into a sense of reflection. It conveys the true pain and loneliness of immigrating, settling down in a new place where you don’t know anyone or the language. The amount of hard work put in to make this journey worthwhile.
It is a film that will move you if you have regret in life that you’ve personally bottled up. It is a family drama that conveys the breaking heart of someone having to live in two worlds while feeling like they belong in neither place. When it ends, you have a want for so much more as the film does in some ways feel unfinished. But as we are conditioned to expect grand finales and clean resolutions, director Alan Yang chose to tell a very honest story over a fluffy, glamorous one; it is a simple yet effective character study. Alongside this, there is some exceptional cinematography supported by a gripping score. The film is conceived out of the opportunity for Alan Yang to say— in his own way, that he is thankful for his parents’ sacrifices. It acts as sentiment that can be felt by many to not reflect on your past with agony, but with understanding.
Tigertail is just as real as any film in 2020 so far, and it’s beautiful on a technical level. Full of stunning wide-shots, subtle dialogue and somewhat likeable characters. The pacing at times drifts away, but there is something going on, whether that is technical or plot wise that is intriguing enough to keep the film flowing.
Tigertail is now available to stream on Netflix
by Charlotte J
Charlotte J is a culture writer and former cinema manager. A lover of coming of age ventures and twisted thrillers, her favourite films include Lady Bird, Back to the Future, Easy A and Get Out. You can find her on Twitter @charlonfilm
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