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Happy Together  

Director: Wong kar-Wai Cast: Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai Country: Hong Kong (China)

The movie starts with the two main actors having sex. With such an opening, Wong kar-Wai leaves the audience with no doubt about the kind of characters they are. Yet it really doesn't sum up what this movie is about, a complicated examination of mood, and what love is and what it makes people do, regardless of gender or sexuality.

This film marks an interesting change in Wong kar-Wai's hectic, high-propane style. As measured, yet full of sensuality and passion as the tango that pervades this film, the film sets up an atmosphere, not only because of the mentioned music, but also with its amazing visuals. The film follows the difficult and ultimately doomed gay relationship between two men from Hong Kong, stranded in Buenos Aires. One (Leslie Cheung) is fickle, selfish and irresponsible, the other (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), though not blind to the situation and the other's faults, cannot but allow himself to be exploited in order to be together with the one he loves. It is a film that, interestingly for its point of origin, treats the gay subject matter with even-handedness, though the film depicts the more unsavoury side of gay life. Primarily though, Wong kar-Wai uses the gay relationship as a vehicle for exploring ideas of love and the agony that it brings when it is abused. Beunos Aires is depicted like the end of the world, the last stop for the truly lost, subject only to intrusions by busloads of crass tourists and sexual predators willing to pay for kitsch and artificiality of any kind. This is not a film which lends itself to a happy mood, in spite of the title. Happiness exists in memories, or in a flawed form, precariously existing from one scene to the next. Though much sadness exists, Tony Leung's character is touched and reminded by a young cheerful kitchenhand at the restaurant he works at, that hope and salvation exists, if only you have the strength to take that step.

The film still suffers a bit from the organic style of its director, who eschews having a structure to his film projects. However, it has a lush style that conjures up moods and feelings that fascinates and remains entangled in one's mind long after the movie ends.

Eden Law

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