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The Cigarette

The Cigarette (Anthony Chen x Abel Korzeniowski, 2023)

NotesPart of Special Issue1: 25X250

Smoking? Composer Abel Korzeniowski can help you quit. Imagine you could be spending the burning time of a cigarette between the sheets, interlocking smiles and touches with your loved one. To Korzeniowski’s soundtrack, Anthony Chen directs a Nouvelle Vague-like black and white exercise in unbridled sensuality—two minutes of partly playful, partly insatiable lovemaking (in tune with the swelling, ever-sweeter soundtrack) between a beautiful young woman and a man whose eyes occasionally say this is too good to be true. (It is.) You could say Chen’s visual style makes explicit the untouchable, dreamlike quality of the score, except it is believable in every detail—the delicately touching hands, the extreme close up on lovers’ faces, the surge of passion—until it’s gone into a seeming painful memory. To casual fans of Asian chamber dramas, the symbiosis of love, longing and ethereal music might bring to mind the work of Wong Kar-wai, except Chen here is more carnal and what he stages is not the turning point of his characters’ lives, but what could once have been the unexpected and delightful love in the afternoon.