Even though the central narrative of Parking – about one man’s constantly frustrated attempts to go home, with his car haplessly trapped by one double-parked car after another – may seem to be a gimmicky, Buñuel-esque conceit, this directorial debut by Taiwanese advertisement director Chung Mong-hong turns out to be a dark comedy masterpiece that is alternatively heartfelt, perverted, and hilarious.
The film chronicles one of the longest days in the life of Chen (Chang Chen), a workaholic husband who parks his car to buy a cake for his distressed wife (Kwai Lun-mei), before heading home for their Mother’s Day dinner. Emerging from the store to find his car boxed in, Chen plunges into the darkness of late night Taipei in search of the double-parked cars’ owners. Along the way, different characters – among them a one-armed barber, an old couple missing an absent son, an out-of-luck Hong Kong tailor, a Mainland Chinese call girl and her domineering pimp – start to crisscross in ever weirder circumstances, with extended flashbacks vividly thrashing out the back story of each.
Like Martin Scorsese’s nightmarish After Hours, everything that can go wrong inevitably goes wrong in Parking – no matter whether Chen is trying to spread his kindness, succumbing to an outburst of frustration, or merely stumbling in an odd moment of clumsiness.
Swinging delicately between offbeat comedy, gangster thriller and arthouse melodrama, Parking is a kaleidoscopic little film that never ceases to fascinate with its inspired originality – not to mention its enchanting score, crisp editing and dazzling cinematography.
Dir Chung Mong-hong, Category IIB, 106 mins, Now showing