Growing up. Being broke. Getting a job. Social graces, life, entertainment and being lonely. That pretty much sums up the existence for the majority of us. Granted... some people have it tougher than others. Some people just ooze all the qualities most of would give anything for. The movers and shakers of the world. Then there are the rest of us such as Jie. He's a man destined to struggle. Not being popular is one thing - but holding down a job and still not being able to pay his bills makes life tough. Being picked on by his peers makes it almost unbearable. Almost.
Jie plays an online game called Farewell To The Ark. It's here, that he unwinds and chats with Shizuko, seemingly his only real friend. "Farewell To The Ark" is a complexly told story that is really very basic when you get right down to it. It deals in feelings. Feelings of worthlessness - and that unending desire to be wanted. To be loved. Not everyone needs to be the coolest cat in town, but everyone needs somebody. So what happens when you try to hard to please? When you will do almost anything to make happy, someone you call a friend. Especially when you really don't have many? Would you do anything? Would you break the law to keep a friend? Even more importantly is this question... if you even have to make that decision... is that friend really even a friend? These are some of the concepts of Yi-Feng Chang's short film, and although numerous and complex... they are not the reason this film isn't simply amazing. More on that below.
"Farewell To The Ark" is a very hard film to follow. I would like to say that perhaps the reason is the language barrier. This is a sub titled movie and sometimes, things can be lost in translation. I don't feel that's the case here. It's the way the story is handled that makes things tough. "Farewell To The Ark" jumps around like a flea on a trampoline. There is no real logic to the way the story is presented and honestly, it's really tough to follow. Had a more standard approach been taken, this would have been an amazing short film. Yet as I sit here and write, I still don't really know if I even got the story right. I'm not sure I understand at all. My description contains as much guess work as it does fact... and that's the problem.
Yet this short film was still a visual treat. The bulk of my rating, comes from the fact it looks and plays so damn well. The visual elements and edit itself are truly outstanding. Especially for a low budget film. "Farewell To The Ark" shows itself like a champ. If only it wasn't so hard to fully comprehend.
At the end of the day a film relies on one basic thing. Structure. When you get a movie such as this one, with seemingly good acting but a definite visual prowess, you assume it's going to be an A+ film all the way. Not always the case. If you can't fully understand what the visual beauty is trying to say... well reader... you get the idea. I personally think I managed to understand the basics of what was happening. But I've also watched a lot of experimental films. Visually, "Farewell To The Ark" earns top marks. There is that.