In his second feature—perhaps the director’s most penetrating and somber cinematic encapsulation of Taiwan’s rapidly changing capital—Yang used the gradual dissolution of a relationship as a broader statement of a nation in a state of alienating transition. Made in collaboration with friend and fellow filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien, who (in addition to co-writing and helping to finance the film) delivers a tremendous, rare acting performance as Lung, a washed-up, disillusioned baseball player who has returned from the United States to run his family’s textile business. At odds with the city that has seemingly left him behind, he inhabits a much different world than his girlfriend, Chen (singer Tsai Chin), an executive assistant who sees the city’s rapid transformation as a prime opportunity to advance her career. Framed in precisely calibrated compositions of urban anonymity and featuring a nonprofessional cast that Yang hoped would reflect the city as he and friends experienced it firsthand, Taipei Story is a psychologically rich character drama realized through the prism of social critique. A Janus Films release.

Taipei Story was restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project at the Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique and Hou Hsiao-hsien.