Film #19: Happy Together (1997)

aka: 春光乍洩 / 春光乍泄 / Ceon1 gwong1 za3 sit3 / Chūn guāng zhà xiè
director: Wong Kar-wai
language: Cantonese with some Spanish, English, Mandarin
length: 94 minutes
watched on: 6 July 2011

This is a tale of two gay guys from Hong Kong who go to the other side of the world in Argentina for a new life. But then everything goes wrong and they have an on-off relationship for the rest of the film.

It’s a fairly typical Wong Kar-wai affair, with long brooding shots and a slight surreal overtone. Most of the film is shot in claustrophobic darkness, with only a few shots truly taking advantage of the scenery that Argentina has to offer; of course, one is expected to focus on the characters in this particular plot. They’re good characters, although the film hasn’t stayed with me enough after two months – all I remember is the “main” one who’s more sensible and the boyfriend who’s more reckless and violent.

Overall, I quite liked it, although it was essentially about quite a depressing subject matter as the two men try and work out their differences to no avail, and often fight together. The title in that sense is quite ironic. It’s quite a bittersweet ending.

It’s also interesting at this point to look back at the date of release of the film and note that (presumably) the filmmakers were trying to escape a Hong Kong that was in a period of uncertainty. And we could easily make a metaphor about that and the relationship of the characters…

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