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Before Sodom’s Cat (2016)the short film That Room (2014) had already placed director Huang Ting-Chun as one of the most promising Taiwanese filmmakers.That Room tells the story of a young gay man who suffers from his boyfriend’s suicide. The emotionally compelling depicts the struggle of a man facing his newly found solitude. 

Watch That Room on GagaOOLala


That Room (Image from GagaOOLala) 

During Moon Festival, Shih suddenly commits suicide in his boyfriend Wei’s room. Wei, now alone, mourns to the sweet photographs of their past, while he continues to live there. A year later, the landlord, who believes the flat is now haunted, tells Wei that the house is to be sold and asks him to move out. As the next Moon Festival is coming, Wei decides to do something special.


That Room (Image from GagaOOLala) 

First, he borrows some money from friends, and tells them that he wants to buy a house. The friend informs him that the lot of them are to hold their regular Moon Festival barbecue gathering and insists that he comes. Ever since Shih passed away, Wei had been seeing him around. He sees him putting charcoal in the trolley when he goes shopping and hears him hum when at home. The TV is left on in the living room. When he showers, he remembers the sweet memory of him brushing his boyfriend’s teeth. 


That Room (Image from GagaOOLala) 

Insomniac, Wei takes sleeping pills. He gets into bed naked to a sleeping Shih, as if reliving once again the pictures he had taken long ago. He wakes up to find the photo frame of them broken on the floor. He takes out the camera but hears something dropping in the cabinet. The object falls on the floor and he smells charcoal just like the smell of Shih’s suicide. 

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That Room 
(Image from GagaOOLala) 

Wei visits Shih’s sister’s photography shop to develop the film in the camera before Shih’s death anniversary. Touched, his sister tells Wei that she had been dreaming of Shih as well, and is as sad as he is. When he gets home, Wei finds the landlord exorcising his room. Agitated, Wei kicks him out. Fearful of losing Shih, he bursts into sorrowful tears.


That Room (Image from GagaOOLala) 

The Moon Festival night, Wei stays at home alone. He walks into the room and again, into a dreamlike state. He lies on the bed and kisses Shih passionately. Just like Shih did, he seals the gap under the door with tape. Perhaps this is the only way he can get rid of his sadness and be reunited with Shih.


That Room (Image from GagaOOLala) 

In the opening scene, That Room uses the image of a full moon during, which signifies unity, as an intense contrast to the regrets of Shih being gone. Wei has kept Shih’s toothbrush which brings back the memory of him brushing Shih’s teeth. For Wei, brushing his teeth has now become a ritual, a form of mourning that he can let go of. The scene where he borrows money from his friends to buy a house at an incineration plant shows light threads of smoke coming out of chimneys. The contrast in which the dead no longer need a home while the living does leaves one in lament. The melody of their romantic engagement, “Sleepless”, is no longer sweet but a metaphor for Wei's insomnia.

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That Room 
(Image from GagaOOLala) 

The last picture Wei took of Shih in his camera is the last evidence that Shih existed, and the probable reason why Shih lingers in Wei’s mind. Wei eventually does not get the photo back. Perhaps because if he does, Shih would be gone forever, and becl(EfM=reg!JQQV$^L4J%gF9WoXO8lV3^X5YvH5u9(5T%sSjdx(ome nothing but a memory. Wei would rather stay in the room Shih was in the end, and stay with Shih forever. 

Watch That Room on GagaOOLala

 

By/ George Bond


From acclaimed Filipino director Adolfo Alix Jr. comes the first series about gay relationships during quarantine times. An anthology series that explores our need to connect during the worst of times.

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