CITIES OF LAST THINGS is a new Netflix movie from Taiwan. It’s a thriller that also has elements of sci-fi, drama and crime. This Netflix movie is quite atypical in the sense that it’s told in reverse chronology, but it works perfectly! Read our full Cities of Last Things review here.
Cities of Last Things is a new Netflix thriller that is divided into several segments. The first of these segments has quite a lot of sci-fi elements. Almost like Blade Runner but less dystopian and dark. Well, in terms of the visual style anyway.
The Netflix original movie is from Taiwan, but overall you’ll hear three languages spokes; Mandarin Chinese, English and French. Sure, this means subtitles, but the dialogue isn’t the primary way of telling this story.
Mostly, you’ll get to experience the life of a man in reverse chronology as we see three major life events unfold. Read more in the full Cities of Last Things review below.
Let’s begin with the end
Since Cities of Last Things is told in reverse chronology, we begin at the end of the story. At this point, the story plays out as a revenge story that takes place in the future. You won’t know exactly how people have wronged our main character, but you can feel his anger.
After this life-defining event, we go 30 years back in time. We know that it’s thirty years since someone mentions an “event” that happened thirty years earlier. Once you’ve viewed this particular segment of the movie, you will understand why he’s so angry.
Finally, we go back to his life when he was 17 years old. This is to give the audience an indication of how his life began and what put him on the path that he’s on later.
Everything happens in such an elegant way and the story in Cities of Last Things is very much character-driven. I’m not sure that I knew any of these actors before watching this movie, but I would love to see all of them again. Especially Hong-Chi Lee, Ning Ding, and Louise Grinberg.
Reverse chronology in storytelling
While reverse chronology is atypical, it is actually a plot device that has been used a few times in storytelling. For me, it isn’t always executed ideally. Fortunately, this new Netflix movie from Taiwai is a perfect example of how to do it.
One of the best known examples of this style might be Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000) along with Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Another brilliant example is Peppermint Candy (1999) from South Korea.
When Cities of Last Things begins, you have no reason to like the main character. The trick with these reverse chronology movies, is to make the audience wonder, if they could ever become him. And you get the answer when you see the life-changing events that made him this angry.
I still don’t think he’s fair or accurate in all his revenge acts, but I do understand some of them.
Watch Cities of Last Things on Netflix now!
The writer and director of Cities of Last Things is Wi Ding Ho. He was actually born and raised in Malaysia and went to film school in New York. This might explain why Cities of Last Things comes across as very international.
Overall, the production quality of Cities of Last Things is absolutely stunning. Both in terms of special effects as well as the audio and visuals in every aspect.
Even if you wouldn’t usually go for a foreign film on Netflix, you really should consider watching Cities of Last Things. It’s very violent, erotic, and heartbreaking. Then again, aren’t these usually the exact elements for most horror movies. And, for once, we’re not dealing with rape as part of the revenge plot!
Cities of Last Things is available on Netflix in several countries from July 11, 2019.
Director: Wi Ding Ho
Writer: Wi Ding Ho
Stars: Lu Huang, Hong-Chi Lee, Linda Jui-Chi Liu, Ning Ding, Louise Grinberg
In a dystopian tale unfolding in reverse chronology, a man with a complicated past takes revenge on the individuals who wronged him decades ago.