Running a hotel, like many jobs, doesn’t seem easy, and those difficulties pile up as Taipei Suicide Story shows that the hotel central to its story is not one’s average hotel. That’s because in this hotel, guests stay and die by suicide. There are unwritten rules about such an establishment. Rules that one of the guests, Jun-Ting (Vivian Sun) break by staying for over a week. The hotel’s front desk worker, Zhi-Hao (Tender Huang) has to deal with Jun-Ting. And doing so is more difficult than it seems.
Zhi-Hao becomes the vessel in Suicide Story‘s well crafted balancing act between normalcy and its diametric opposite. A hotel that allows its guests to die by suicide and cleans up after them is such a high concept. It mixes up its otherwise normal environment. The film also pulls back in scenes like Zhi-Hao recommending food places to Jun-Ting.
Zhi-Hao and Jun-Ting also disappear into the background. They spend the film standing inside the hotel rooms or walking around their little subsection of Taipei. Moving the camera away surprisingly works to express the alienation that these characters feel that also make them relatable. Even if yes, viewers don’t necessarily want to do what Jun-Ting is thinking of doing because of her loneliness. It also records the mundane aspects of their conversations, giving the film levels.
There’s probably a version of Taipei Suicide Story that focuses on more guests or a few more of the hotel’s workers, but focusing it on Jun-Ting and Zhi-Hao adds to the film Just like her conversation with Zhi-Hao about the restaurant’s menu, it shows her using her room’s karaoke machine before she does or doesn’t die of suicide. There’s a method to this film in general that enhances its emotions.
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