Happy Together

Happy Together

Rating: 8/10
Year: 1997
Genre: Drama
Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung, Chang Chen

One of the enlightening moments that occur in Happy Together is a scene that doesn' t display any interaction between the characters. It doesn't have dialogue or prop placement. It doesn't really even have a main story line in the whole film. In fact, many could argue, how did this scene even make the cut in the editing room?

It is slapped right in the beginning of the film, this is what you expect when you are a seasoned Wong Kar-Wai film watcher, which is odd considering most films choose to have these catharsis moments set in the end. Because he shoots without an official written script, opting for more on the fly approach, the final product is a mix and mash of driven emotion. Rather than following the traditions of true filmmaking pace, the director gives viewers an unexpected, unanticipated approach for emotional purification.

In this particular example, it takes place right after the two lovers are stuck on the highway in Buenos Aries. A medium shot shows Fai upset, in black in white nonetheless, moves to a shot of a map on the car swinging from the wind, then to the master shot of the waterfalls.

In truth, this long paced out shot is simplistic in ways of telling a story. On the other hand, however, this visual shot builds so much momentum in the beginning that it alone, if cut out could be a short film itself. Played out next to a beautiful song called, Cucurrucucu Paloma performed by Caetano Veloso, this uncut shot of the waterfalls with little camera movement is natural in the most beautiful terms. For guys, it is equated to seeing a beautiful woman on the street with no make up. It's just what it is. You can't help but misbehave and stare.

A reason why this director is such a heavy favorite is his understanding in how to tell his story. Rather than relying by whole on acting or story only, Wong Kar-Wai uses a holistic approach in which he incorporates all the above. If you look at his films past, and then watch Happy Together you see that the moments that are worth the wealth are those quiet moments with small interaction, little dialogue, and small technical use of filmmaking.

For example, a shot of the two lovers dancing in the public kitchen of the apartment building is shown to be so simple, but in truth, very telling of how affectionate and passionate the moment is between the loved ones. There is no real dialogue between the characters, but the wisdom comes from the body language that they show. Their enthusiasm and facial expression serves itself worthwhile.

This film is deemed, "not a gay movie." I admit, I did shelve this for a bit due to ego or whatever. But since it was a Wong Kar-Wai film, which has earned him the 1997 Best Director award at the Cannes film festival, it was a must watch. So here are seven reasons, yes seven, you should watch this film.

  1. Tony Leung.
  2. To see what the heck I'm taking about when I bring up the waterfall scene.
  3. Leslie Cheung. Once voted the biggest Asian superstar. Rest in Peace.
  4. You think Carrie Prejeana')s is dumb.
  5. Very likable use of black and white that doesn't bore.
  6. You are a world traveler or about to be one.
  7. This is one of the last films in the Wong Kar-Wai collection you haven't seen.

Cool guy(s) - Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung, Chang Chen

Reviewed by: Mike Vu