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Yiu-Fai and Po-Wing arrive in Argentina from Hong Kong and take to the road for a holiday. Something is wrong and their relationship goes adrift. A disillusioned Yiu-Fai starts working at a tango bar to save up for his trip home. When a beaten and bruised Po-Wing reappears, Yiu-Fai is empathetic but is unable to enter a more intimate relationship. After all, Po-Wing is not ready to settle down. Yiu-Fai now works in a Chinese restaurant and meets the youthful Chang from Taiwan. Yiu-Fai's life takes on a new spin, while Po-Wing's life shatters continually in contrast.
Happy Together  Wong Kar-Wai (Size: 636.41 MB)
Happy Together (1997)
Chun gwong cha sit (original title)
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It's hard to decide whether Wong Kar-Wai is great or just momentarily fashionable. His films are confidently made, to the point of being cocky, yet it's their very bravado that makes them suspicious.
Part of the dilemma is that Western moviegoers are extremely plot-dependent, and Wong is a filmmaker who has absolutely no use for narrative cinema as we know it, so adjustments have to be made.
One thing is clear, and that is with Wong there are no half measures, only contradictory ones.
Happy Together, is about a gay couple, but never mentions homosexuality. It is seemingly plotless, yet there is a definite linear progression. It is an art film in color and black-and-white, with adventurous and often jarring editing, but it's as accessible as any paint-by-the-numbers action film.
Wong won the award for best director at the Cannes Film Festival in May, a major coup not only for the filmmaker but also for a struggling Hong Kong film industry. The bold, distinctive style he has honed in Chungking Express (1994) and Days of Being Wild (1990) is finally getting him some serious international attention.
Happy Together is about two Hong Kong men, Lai Yiu-Fai (Tony Leung) and Ho Po-Wing (Leslie Cheung), who go to Argentina to try to jump-start their relationship, much like they try and jump-start their automobile on a desolate Argentine highway at the beginning of the film. Po-Wing calls it starting over ; they've been down this road before.
The relationship is obsessive, and they break up. Po-Wing is the promiscuous, wild one, and Yiu-Fai is the loyal malcontent. Yiu-Fai gets a job as the tuxedoed doorman at a Buenos Aires tango club and rents a cheap flat. Occasionally, he watches Po-Wing bring his latest conquest through the door.
Later, Po-Wing shows up at Yiu-Fai's door so badly beaten that Yiu-Fai has to nurse him back to health. Po-Wing wants to start over, but Yiu-Fai resists; he wants to break free of his emotional dependence of Po-Wing. So while Po-Wing is recovering physically, Yiu-Fai tries to heal emotionally.
The most immediate feeling generated by Happy Together is the absolutely gorgeous cinematography by Wong's longtime collaborator, Christopher Doyle. He'll try anything, and that's what cinema is, or should be, all about. The black-and-white work has a misty, unreal quality about it, and the color work - the film is mostly in color - is based in warm reds and yellows, with a little cool blue added for balance.
Wong works with an internal clock rather than a conventional one. He edits his film not to music or plot resonance, but to emotion - or lack thereof. In some ways, he's a minimalist, using glances and action to convey information. When there is dialogue or narration, he makes every word count.
This approach would not work without two talented actors working in synch. Leung (the double agent in Hard Boiled and the policeman in love with Faye Wong in
Chungking Express ) and Cheung ( Farewell My Concubine, Temptress Moon ) each give performances that would be worth Oscar nominations if Hollywood ever saw a film like this (Leung, in fact, lost the best actor award at Cannes by one vote to Sean Penn in She's So Lovely ).
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