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Days Of Being Wild  

Director: Wong kar-Wai
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Carina Lau, Andy Lau, Rebecca Pan, Jacky Cheung

This is one of Wong kar-Wai's early films, and one which received much acclaimed, and the principle actors with whom he would work with repeatedly appear here. Set in the 1960s Hong Kong (a recurring theme for Wong kar-Wai), Leslie Cheung is Yuddy (Leslie Cheung), a dissolute young lush who treats women like disposables and who seems to exist with no purpose in love except one thing: to discover the identity of his natural mother, a fact that his foster mother, Rebecca (Rebecca Pan), a retired courtesan, refuses to tell him.

Maggie Cheung plays one of Yuddy's more recent conquests, Su Lizhen, a lonely simple girl who works in a store, who is seduced in the beginning of the movie, literally bit by bit, by this charming man who promises to remember her for one minute in time for the rest of his life. Yuddy takes her affections, but is not concerned with returning it, leading her to break it off, though it proves much harder to put in practice than she realises. She keeps returning to Yuddy's building, getting upset every time, and it was during one of these moments that she meets Tide (Andy Lau), a police officer who befriends her. Meanwhile Yuddy acquires another girlfriend, a raucous and abrasive nightclub dancer Leung Fung-Ying (Carina Lau) who seems shallow but falls into the same emotional trap as Lizhen, though lacking the latter's strength of character to leave. Yuddy is the film's main character, self-obsessed and insensitive, yet his nonchalance and casual cruelness hides someone who is essentially not more than a boy, angry and frustrated, searching for his place and a sense of belonging. He is on the path of self-destruction, his self esteem non-existent, giving rise to his lack of ability to really care for anyone, including himself.

There are several strands in the movie, with the characters all connected to each other by desire of various kinds. Desire and love here is treated quite differently from how it is in mainstream cinema. Love here can be exploited, used, and can leave those who dare in agony and hurt, and is rarely, if ever, fulfilled. Lizhen, though hurt terribly, eventually recovers, but Fung-Ying does not. The latter's character, though abrasive, is a vulnerable and a silly immature girl, lashing out emotionally at all who dares to come in-between her and Yuddy. Rebecca is cynical, opting for a flawed kind of love with a much younger lover whom she knows is only around for her money, yet even she suffers in spite of her jadedness. Only Tide seems unaffected, and he eventually meets up with Yuddy later in the movie, and rebukes the latter's life philosophy, making him realise the truth only too late.

Though not as pronounced here in this movie as in his later movies like 'Chungking Express', Wong kar-Wai's unique style of cinematography and camera style are evident, using washed out monochromatic filters and jerky movements to create moods which he knows how to do so well. And as usual, Wong kar-Wai inserts a perplexingly obtuse ending which could either amuse or irritate: a cameo appearance by Tony Leung preparing for a night-out on the town. An interesting film, sometimes self-indulgent but powered by very excellent performances.

Eden Law

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