Directed by: Alan Yang
Starring: Tzi Ma, Christine Ko, Hayden Szeto, Lee Hong-chi, Kunjue Li, Fiona Fu, Yang Kuei-mei, James Saito, Joan Chen
Release Date: 10 April, 2020
Running Time: 91 Minutes
A Taiwanese factory worker leaves his homeland to seek opportunity in America, where he struggles to find connection while balancing family and newfound responsibilities in this multi-generational drama.
Tigertail is a 2020 American Direct-to-video film written and directed by Alan Yang. It stars Tzi Ma, Christine Ko, Hayden Szeto, Lee Hong-chi, Kunjue Li, Fiona Fu, Yang Kuei-mei, James Saito and Joan Chen.
It was released on April 10, 2020, by Netflix.
Tigertail: Movie Trailer
The beauty of Netflix is not just the binge-worthy, nail-biting thrillers it constantly brings to us. Rather its biggest strength is how it is slowly becoming a nucleus of stories which are as culture-specific as universal in appeal. One such beautiful and poignantly touching story is Tigertail, directed and written by Emmy Award-winner Alan Yang. Himself a Taiwanese American, he borrows heavily from his own lineage and his father’s life though does not replicate it in toto.
Certainly, love and loss is not exactly an earth-shattering theme. Yet as Tigertrail, currently streaming on Netflix, tackles the same subject while spanning generations and continents, it embraces you in a warm hug. So strong is the hold that however hard you may try, you can’t shirk off its grip. Revelling in the art of minimalism, this cinematic nugget does not remain just another individual story of a man choosing future aspirations over love. Touching a deep chord within, it could well be the story of a migrant anywhere in the world, who in their quest for greener pastures do not factor in other realities.
But of course, the film which unfolds bit by bit, expectedly in a non-linear fashion takes no moralistic position or preachy stance. Simply and beautifully told, the arc follows a young man Pin-Jui living in Taiwan, whose circumstances are anything but enviable. He finds happiness in love even if briefly, only to squander it all away for dream of better life in a foreign land via an arranged marriage.
On paper, the story doesn’t come riding with too many twists and turns. Yet as it is fleshed out in warm and tender hues, few things escape your attention. Slowly, you see the man with a twinkle in his eye (Hong-Chi Lee as the younger Pin-Jui is charmingly effusive) transform into a pale and sad imitation of his real self (wonderfully restrained Tzi Ma), who finds it enormously difficult to even relate to his daughter Angela (Christine Ko). If his love story is packed with relatable emotions that many of us are too familiar with, the separation and the ensuing nostalgia tugs at your heart-strings with greater force.
Yet there is economy of expression and intent. Not a wee bit melodramatic, just a tear drop has the power to pierce right through your heart. The visual language is boxed just right, especially in the final scene where father and daughter are seen through the prism of window of his old house; finally connected through their common roots. The final scene is as visually rich as emotive in its appeal.