Tigertail (2020) A Review

A multigenerational family drama with a love story woven around a story of the struggle of making the hard decision to immigrate to a new country for the chance of a better life.

Certificate: PG

Director: Alan Yang

Screenwriter: Alan Yang

Starring: Tzi Ma, Christine Ko, Hong-Chi Lee

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 91 Minutes


Reviewed by: Pearl

Tigertail tells the story of Pin-Jui, who starts the film as a young, idealistic Taiwanese man, who is working in a factory and having a semi-serious relationship in secret with a young woman much more well off than he is.  It also tells the story of Pin-Jui many years later as an older man, after he has made the hard decision to relocate to America in the hopes of starting a better life for his family.

I am never really a fan of multigenerational stories, I always find that one part of the story gets more attention then the rest, meaning one half of the story is left feeling underdeveloped.  And this one is no different.  The main story, telling the life of Pin-Jui as a young man, is beautifully told and emotional, but the story of his life in current day new York, feels a little under-developed and doesn’t really gather any steam until the end of the film.  So this makes the present day scenes seem a little unnecessary, and the film would have been just as enjoyable had it told the story in a normal linear fashion, and left the present day scenes until the end of the film rather then jump about.

There is of course the usual tension between the first generation immigrants and their children, who have been raised in America, and therefore are much more Westernized then their parents.  It might be a storyline that is overused in these kind of stories, but I imagine it is something that a lot of families have to deal with in life, so maybe isn’t something that should be gotten rid of. 

The atmosphere and the story really are the best part of the film.  It is emotional and very well written, with the non linear format being the only issue I really have with it as discussed previously.  It really does a good job of showing the hardships the characters faced when moving to America.  The loneliness and feelings of isolation that they must have felt.  For me though I don’t know if the acting was all that convincing.  Some scenes were well acted, with the actors involved showing great emotional range.  Bit for the most part I felt that a connection, chemistry, was missing between the characters, and especially during the present-day scenes sometimes the acting could seem a little wooden.  Which ruins the illusion that these characters are supposed to be family.  Even if that isn’t a particularly close family.

An engaging enough story, but the acting leaves something to be desired.  If you want to experience this one for yourself, it is streaming now on Netflix.

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