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Yiu-Fai and Po-Wing arrive in Argentina from Hong Kong and take to the road for a holiday. Something is wrong and their relationship goes adrift. A disillusioned Yiu-Fai starts working at a tango bar to save up for his trip home. When a beaten and bruised Po-Wing reappears, Yiu-Fai is empathetic but is unable to enter a more intimate relationship. After all, Po-Wing is not ready to settle down. Yiu-Fai now works in a Chinese restaurant and meets the youthful Chang from Taiwan. Yiu-Fai's life takes on a new spin, while Po-Wing's life shatters continually in contrast. Written by
Perry Yu <email@example.com>
In "Happy Together" Director Wong Kar Wai tells us the story of a relationship that does not survive the alienation inside and outside.
The film is set in Argentina where two lovers are stranded because they don't have enough money to return to their native Hong Kong.
The film shows us that Fai and Po-wing are unable to find equality or balance in their relationship. It is a story about the way most relationships are defined by the balance of power.. and how this leads to despair. Fai reflects that their relationship was the happiest when Po-wing was ill and had to be cared for like a child. As Po Wing's health improves Fai draws away from him and refuses his attempts of closeness, illustrated by the constant battles over couch and bed. When Po-Wing is well enough to go out again by himself the balance of the power in relationship shifts. Po-wing slowly but surely slips away into the world of hustling. He never finds his way back to Fai who eventually saves enough money to go home.
Both are emotionally devastated by the loss of their lover. We only see them being happy together in a glimpse, as they dance a slow dance together in their room. It seems the happiness in their relationship that Fai refers to in connection with Po-Wing's illness, is an isolated kind of happiness that he himself enjoys without Po-wing's knowledge. If they are ever indeed Happy Together we see it only in facial expressions, in their tone of voice but these are expressions of love and tenderness that never seem to reach the surface that remain unspoken.
Wong Kar Wai's visual style is absolutely stunning. He conveys the alienation inside the relationship - and the alienation outside - (I am referring to the fact that they are in a different country) through colors and camera-movements. We are constantly looking at the protagonists from a corner high above or through the window of a seedy bar. Every single shot feels claustrophobic and it irritates the viewer. It makes the viewer long for closeness and clarity. It imitates the longing of the characters and their attempts - and failure - at connecting to each other. Their feelings, as does the eye of the lens, float above them in a silent, detached loneliness.
"Happy Together" is one of those films that I do not really enjoy watching. It is actually physically painful to watch because it hurts the eye as much as it hurts the soul. The film makes its style and subject matter into one flesh, a "happy" marriage of form and content.
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