Money may be overflowing, but lust for life is scarce in Tsai Ming-liang’s impressive feature debut, which is also a breath-taking example of Oriental nihilism.

The scene: Taipei in the early 1990s. Although the South-East Asian economies are booming, the youth in  Rebels of the Neon God mostly seem to be a bit apathetic. Director Tsai Ming-liang manages to unobtrusively reveal that loneliness apparently is the price we have to pay for our consumer society. While everyone is consumed with silent longing, the desire to connect is seldom rewarded.

This might sound a bit depressing, but the director certainly doesn’t seem to think so. At press conferences he often laughs loudly while addressing his recurring theme; non-communication is a given in the brimming Asian cities with their millions of inhabitants. This inconspicuously conveyed message certainly also quietly resounds in his debut movie.