In the UK we have descended into the deepest, darkest, of places; government enforced lockdown due to the covid-19 outbreak. As a result of this lockdown cinemas have shut for what is probably the first time in our lifetime. With the lack of theatrical releases, with the postponement of many widely anticipated films, we are looking in different places to view new and exciting content.
Netflix is the number one avenue for new content and, as the years have gone by, have upped their game in the film category. With big releases like ‘The Irishman’, ‘Uncut Gems’ and ‘Roma’, they have certainly shown themselves to be versatile, brave and innovative in such a small amount of time. In particular what we find has been especially impressive is Netflix’s tenacity and ambition towards the foreign language market. Take ‘Roma’ for example, this was one of the first big Oscar contenders tin a foreign language that was nominated in the best picture category; it had a small release but featured on Netflix’s streaming service. With the release of ‘Tigertail’, we are treated to another little gem that I believe, without Netflix’s power and presence, we would never been able to see a film like this in such an accessible way.
‘Tigertail’ follows Grover, a Taiwanese factory worker who has ambitions of leaving Taiwan and relocating to America, to provide a better life for himself and his Mother. The film flicks from flashbacks of Grover’s time in Taiwan, from a young undocumented child and being protected by his grandparents, to working in a factory with his mother, falling in love with someone who be believes is well out of his reach and dealing with life defining changes that will define him as a person. We skip forward to present day, where Grover played by experienced actor Tzi Ma, where Grover’s life is in a completely different place compared to how the younger version of himself anticipates to be. As we continue our journey with Grover, its clear to see how his past decisions slowly start to unravel in a negative way and we see him having to deal with these at a testing, and emotional time in his life.
Directed by Alan Yang, a name you may not be overly familiar with, but has his hand in plenty of TV series like ‘Parks and Recreation’ and ‘The Good Place’. Both being comedies, don’t expect ‘Tigertail’ to follow the same suit. ‘Tigertail’ very much feels like a passion project by Yang, his first directorial debut for a feature film whilst also written by Yang. The emotional aspect of the movie is the films heavyweight punch. It’s written brilliantly by Yang as he manages to portray the characters emotions on screen in such an effective way. The film slowly amalgamates into quite the sad story that grips your heart harder and harder throughout until you want to burst into tears. What I found to be most impressive is the use of 16mm cameras and digital technology. Yang’s decision to use 16mm cameras for the flashbacks is such a great way of displaying older times, as though you are watching a home movie or a 70’s drama. The grainy effects on the 16mm film complement the colour palette of Grover’s time in Taiwan and his immediate arrival in America. As the film flicks from 16mm to digital in the present day, we found it to be refreshing as the films image changed with the time change.
When you watch ‘Tigertail’, make sure to have the tissues at the ready. It’s not a complete heartbreaker, it’s the silent tear jerker. You may not necessarily hear others tearing up, but inside, they are probably on edge. ‘Tigertail’ isn’t a sugar-coated family drama that has that “feel-good ending” like in many American dramas, this doesn’t hold back and delivers exactly on what you would expect to happen to you in life. It pulls no strings and because of that, its authenticity radiates off your television screen and makes an impact from the very first moments. If there is ever a time to go out of your comfort zone and watch something that you wouldn’t necessarily think to view (yes, I’m talking to all you people who avoid foreign language/subtitled movies). Give it a shot, we promise you will not regret it.