NotASexyVamp’s review published on Letterboxd:
Really should have reviewed this before watching The Wayward Cloud, a film that features the same characters and which ends in such an explosive way it reverberates into my feelings on this film.
Tsai Ming-Liang's primary obsession is with alienation and loneliness, the inability of characters to connect as much as they desperately want to. It feels natural this film tackles grief, perhaps the ultimate expression of that. Hsiao-Kang and his mother cope in unusual ways. He winds clocks back, forcing them in line with Paris time. He sold his watch to a woman travelling to Paris, maybe a part of him thinks that if he can change time he can be with her, or with his dad again. These are futile pursuits but Ming-Liang's films often feature deeply human and heartbreaking eccentricity.
This feels very similar to Vive L'Amour and Days, films about lonely characters who, at the climax, finally find some very fleeting form of connection. I cry at them because I too treasure those moments, that interaction, that tiny moment where you feel belonging and hope. We expect the watch seller and the girl to meet up again, to close the connection, but we'll have to wait for that. Instead, there's another unexpected full circle moment, a mindblowing deeply peaceful image that sees the world as magical and strange as it truly is.