Monday, 15 April 2013

Happy Together, ‘Chun gwong cha sit’ (1997) – ★★★★

happy_together_blu-ray4Director: Kar Wai Wong
Writer: Kar Wai Wong
Stars: Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Chen Chang

Happy Together is a great film that has a story with substance. It’s like watching a documentary, where the subject is ‘the most dysfunctional Chinese same-sex couple in history.’ If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘Taxi Driver’ by Martin Scorsese, you’ll see that this movie has a similar atmosphere and darkness. The story isn’t beautiful, but in the end it felt like I’d seen something beautiful.

Yui-Fai (Tony Leung) and Po-Wing (Leslie Cheung) arrive in Argentina to ‘start over’ with their relationship and take to the road for a holiday. When their relationship drifts apart, they get stuck in Argentina together. They fight, they love, they work, and they struggle to get back on their feet. It’s a sad movie, yet you leave feeling happy.

HappyTogether-webYou see their relationship fall deeper into darkness as they live together in a small apartment for a long period of time. They care about each other sometimes, and despise each other the rest of the time. There’s very little narrative, which detracts from a fully emotional connection to the characters and their situations.

Happy Together is gritty, dirty, realistic, and interesting. It gets major points for being daring and original. I don’t care which way you spin it, Po did not love Yui-Fai. What they had wasn’t love, it was familiarity. They stayed together because that’s all they could do, which is why I wouldn’t call this a romantic film.

I have a feeling that this story would work better in a novel than it does on film. I put that down to the lack of information we’re given about these two men. We don’t know much about their thoughts or history.

hapstog4Nothing is apparent, you have to read in between the lines to truly understand them. However, in Happy Together, the whole “less is more’ technique didn’t really do any favors to the films overall enjoyablilty.

The REAL heart and soul came from the friendship between Yui Fai and Chang (Chen Chang). Chang was only a minor character, but for me he made the movie way more enjoyable. His presence gave me something to look forward to, for this movie is full of sadness. He was the light that the film needed.

The last half hour of the movie really picked up. There was hope and happiness there, and some excellent music and cinematography. I found myself feeling elated, and wanting to find out what happens next. Since the movie left me wanting more (which is a compliment), I’m giving it a solid four stars. It’s beautiful, it’s real, and it’s unforgettable.

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