Sunday 28 December 2014

Happy Together [1997]

Happy Together, a ravishing and bittersweet elucidation of Wong Kar-Wai’s love and penchant for doomed romances, melancholia, loneliness, unhurried pacing and stylized visuals, and having a title that couldn’t be more ironic, would certainly rank amongst his best works, alongside the likes of Chungking Express, In the Mood for Love and 2046. Lai (Tony Leung), reserved and deep, and Ho (Leslie Cheung), impulsive and self-destructive, have fled from Hong Kong to Buenos Aires with the intent of giving a fresh start to their tumultuous and on-and-off relationship. They also want to visit the Iguaza Falls, which formed a constant leitmotif in its representation of longing, dream and freedom and jarring juxtaposition to their dismal, confused, emotionally torn and penurious existences. The haunting tone, and the pervading sense of loss and heartbreak, was very well complemented by the film’s freewheeling form. Doyle’s breathtaking cinematography – muted black-and-whites, washed out colors, tinted visuals, varying film speeds – made it ravishing for the eyes, while also deftly adding to the tale’s moody atmosphere, edginess and emotional power, revelation of the lost protagonists’ inner longings and emptiness, and portrayal of the city’s apartments, alleys and bars. The rather underdeveloped character of the friendly Taiwanese Chang (Chang Chen) seemed tad superfluous, more so when placed alongside Leung’s enthralling performance and Leung’s bristling supporting act; the 3-hour version of the film which never got released (Wong had himself cut it down to its 97 minutes length), hence, makes one all the more curious.

Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Genre: Drama/Romantic Drama/Urban Drama
Language: Cantonese/Mandarin/Spanish
Country: China (Hong Kong)

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