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春光乍洩 (1997)
Happy Together

Reviewed by: calros
Date: 07/30/2012
Summary: Boooooring

About two gays in Argentina. Nothing more to say (almost nothing relevant happens here). I fell asleep within 30 minutes. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 08/06/2010

From the "isn't it ironic" file, Wong Kar-Wai's Happy Together is perhaps one of the most dour films you're likely to ever see, concentrating on the jagged end of a relationship between two lovers. But in its' own way, the movie is also gloriously beautiful and truly one of the most unique experiences put to celluloid.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 01/24/2009
Summary: Uncomfortable, but excellent

HAPPY TOGETHER shows, in gory detail, the final dregs of love between Lai Yiu-Fai (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) and Ho Po-Wing (Leslie Cheung). Both have come to Buenos Aires to “start over”; a familiar lament of Ho’s. But the relationship is all but over and they end up bickering as soon as they get there. Lai is increasingly jealous of Ho’s lovers, and in an effort to control, he steals Ho’s passport, virtually making him a prisoner in Argentina.

HAPPY TOGETHER has surely got to be the most inappropriate title for this Wong Kar-Wai film about the ending of a relationship. Basically the flipside of CHUNGKING EXPRESS, the film is pretty much a catalogue of misery. The couple are clearly doomed from the start, and their “starting over” idea by going to Argentina goes to hell.

Voyeuristic and basically plotless, HAPPY TOGETHER is not an easy film to watch (unless you enjoy watching two soon-to-be former lovers bicker, argue and throw punches at each other), but it’s also an undoubtedly accomplished piece. This time, Christopher Doyle’s approach really puts you in Lai’s dingy bedsit while he looks after/ignores/beats up Ho. Never before has he been as uneasy to watch as here, and you’re reminded of the fact nearly every minute of the 92 minute running time (in its uncut PAL form). Secondly, as usual, Wong uses music to great effect – from the Latin jazz in fitting with the setting to the psychedelic jazz of Frank Zappa.

The narrative is supplied by Lai, and we basically see the film through his eyes. He is not shown as totally blameless in the destruction of the relationship, but the hot-and-cold nature of Ho leaves little room for viewer sympathy. He takes to parading new lovers in front of Lai after arguments, whether to win him back through jealousy or just out of nastiness we are never told. Things have a habit of going wrong for the reckless, impulsive Ho, though, and he always has to rely on Lai to sort him out, thereby starting the cycle all over again. They seem doomed to saying their last goodbyes and then “starting over” forever unless one of them can break that cycle, and that’s where Chang comes in. Chang is the platonic friend and co-worker of Lai, and essentially the only other character in the movie.

I’ve watched HAPPY TOGETHER three times now since it came out in 1997 and I can’t see me ever wanting to watch it again, despite its obvious artistic flare and doubtless merits. It’s just too dark and depressing and I think I’ve got all I’m going to get out of it. However, don’t for one minute think it’s a bad film – it definitely needs to be seen at least once – probably twice. Seek it out but don’t expect any laughs.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: test_editor
Date: 08/05/2006

Hong Kong Category III (equivalent to NC-17, for adult language, sexual situations, and nudity.)Drama/Art Film.

Yiu-fai (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) and Po-wing (Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing) have come to Buenos Aires to "start over" for the umpteenth time. The two break up and get back together and break up again as Po-Wing needs Fai's care or goes out to hustle yet another time, and Fai must face the empty state of their relationship and decide what to do.

A deeply affecting art film about isolation within relationships and how lovers fail to connect. As this relationship happens to be a homosexual one and the film opens with an extremely intense gay love scene, if you are uncomfortable with homosexuality this, unfortunately, may not the film for you. Watching these two play out this doomed relationship is one of the best, truest performances I've ever seen, especially from Leung, who, according to on-set witnesses, was shocked by how far they went in the opening love scene. He apparently managed to overcome his shock and nervousness; he plays both the soul - deep love and the passion Fai feels for his partner very convincingly. Cheung, who plays both gay and straight characters with ease and conviction, gives a terrific performance as well. He's also known for his ability to play characters who, although they remain deeply flawed and more than a little unlikeable, nevertheless earn our understanding and pity, and this is no exception. Chang Chen is also very good as the displaced Taiwanese co-worker who befriends Fai. There is a great deal of wonderful symbolism as well as Chris Doyle's incredible cinematography and Wong's patented camera techniques. I would have rated this film at five thumbs up, however, since much of it is as searingly painful as a sword through the heart I can't watch it too often despite its upbeat ending -- thus the rating of four - and - a - half. With these caveats, a film that is absolutely not to be missed.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: alienlord
Date: 05/12/2001

A well directed, account into the lives of two gay lovers living in Buenos Aires. The two lead performances are excellent, and the direction is what we can expect from Wong Kar-Wai, but the plot is very thin and seems to be stretched as far as it possibly can to be able to make a whole movie out of it. But even these flaws can't erase it's originality and excellent cinematography. ***/4

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: TequilaYuen
Date: 06/11/2000
Summary: Wong Kar Wai May have let this film wander too far...

This is one of the few movies that i can easily forget about the plot, and concentrate on the visual experience (Belly being another). I find Wong Kar Wai's movies intriguing, and chris doyles camerawork and photography amazing. This film was beautiful, it just lacked a lot in the plot department. But it didn't seem to matter. The things I find best about Wong Kar Wais films are that you never understand them fully until they are over, and he can say so muchmore without dialogue that any other director, ever.

Reviewed by: Mark
Date: 12/30/1999
Summary: A story of love lost and love endured

This is the sixth film from Hong Kong arthouse director Wong Kar-Wai, and the one that netted him the Best Director award at Cannes in 1997. Wong takes two of Hong Kong cinema's most handsome leading men to South America for a story of love lost and love endured. The script is partially based on The Buenos Aries Affair, by author Manuel Puig, whose non-linear narrative techniques were a seminal inspiration to Wong's development as a film-maker and storyteller.

Lai Yiu-Fai (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) and Ho Po-Wing (Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing) move from Hong Kong to Buenos Aires to start over. The film opens with them making love in a fashion at once tender and desperate, and soon enough they break up again over an aborted road trip to see the famous Iguazu Falls. Lai goes to work as a doorman at a tango bar, and must endure the sight of Ho coming and going most nights with a different man. However, when Ho is badly beaten, Lai takes him in. The two start over again, with inevitable results. As Lai sums it up, "I had no regrets until I met you. Now my regrets could kill me."

It's a beautiful and mesmeric film. Australian-born Christopher Doyle's cinematography is exquisite, and uses a wide mix of mediums, from black-and-white to video to 16mm to grainy colour to still frames and back again. It sounds messy, but the result draws you effortlessly into the misfiring emotions of Lai and Ho's world, so much so that after a while you fail to notice exactly when the colour comes and goes.

There's not a great deal of plot, which is the point; humans are unpredictable creatures, particularly in love, and life rarely runs neatly. It leaves the actors plenty of space, and Tony Leung picked up the Best Actor award at the 1998 Hong Kong Film Awards. His character's journey defines the film, and it's ultimately a hopeful one. The credits roll to the tune of the Turtles song "Happy Together", and you'll be still humming it for weeks afterward.

Reviewed by: SUPERCOP
Date: 12/27/1999
Summary: Another Wong Kar-wai masterwork.....

Inspired by author Manuel Puig's The Buenos Aires Affair, this 1997 picture is the latest to come from art house filmmaker Wong Kar-wai. Presented in a non linear narrative, the story follows the lives of a bickering gay couple, who split up during their trip to Argentina, only to reunite and split up again. Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing play the couple, and give real depth to their underwritten characters (this is a given, since Wong Kar-wai doesn't prescript his own films), while Taiwanese actor Chang Chen is fares well with his excellent performance. Once again, Christopher Doyle complements the film with an exotic look, alternating between classic black and white and bright and lush colors. Another Wong Kar-wai masterpiece.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Lai Yiu Fai and Ho Bo Wing left Hong Kong, originally wanting togo to a great waterfall in South America, but in the end they are stuck on the streets of Buenos Aires. On the strange South American soil, the two men......

[Reviewed by Next Magazine]