Hou Hsiao-hsien 25: Contexts 15 – Growing Up (Chen Kunhou, 1983)

We discuss this absorbing and extremely likeable film in the context of New Taiwanese Cinema. Chen Kunhou was then Hou’s regular cinematographer. This feels , to an extent,  like a transition between the style of the earlier Hou films and the later ones. Hou Hsiao-hsien collaborated on the screenplay and we compare this to Hou’s earlier films (and find it lacking). There’s a sense that that this is a first try for ideas that were better developed in Boys from Fengkuei & Time to Live and a Time to Die.

There are spoilers in the podcast. The film is a maternal melodrama, where the mother’s point of view is sidelined in favour of the son’s, the husband’s, the society, a childhood schoolmate of the son. We find fault with the screenplay, the structure and the visual story-telling. What in Hou feel like ellipses that afford depth, here  come across as unbelievable plot holes or plot twists. We are nonetheless very charmed by it and highly recommend.

The podcast my also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT

and on itunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/first-impressions-thinking-aloud-about-film/id1548559546

An example of the clumsy visual story-telling we refer to may be found below:


José Arroyo

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