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John is an English photojournalist who has spent over a decade in Hong Kong; his friend Jim often crashes in his cramped apartment. John's unrequited love is Vivian whom he aches for but has not the nerve to possess. Concurrent with England's transfer of Hong Kong back to the Chinese, John discovers that he has a rare form of leukemia and has only months to live. So John, Jim, and the disfigured proto-hippy Jean grab a digital video camera and prowl the streets, seeking to document the "real" Hong Kong one last time. Written by
When John and Jim stop during the motorcycle ride up the hill, the shadow of a cameraman is visible. See more »
Just a week ago all I wanted was to tell Vivian how much I loved her. But now I see that's the one thing I mustn't do. I can't offload my illness onto her, or Jim, or Mary and the kids. I don't want the look in their eyes to remind me I'm dying. I wonder if I can hold out longer than the British. Not that I could be described as an empire.
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I don't know if Wayne Wang is into photography or painting as a hobby, but just like his last two films, SMOKE and BLUE IN THE FACE, this movie reminded me of a mosaic or a photo album. I can see how some people had problems with it, since it's not a plot-driven film, but rather one of mood and atmosphere. I was moved by the images I saw, not just of the city and the changes it went through, but also of the actors. Irons is so often celebrated for the way that he uses his voice (justly, I might add) that you forget how well he's able to act with his face, and he does a terrific job here, communicating his sadness, his will to live even as disease ravages him, his agony over his unrequited love for Gong Li, and his curiosity and attraction to Maggie Cheung.
I haven't seen much of Cheung that I remember, but I've seen a few of Li's films. Both of them are excellent, Li especially in a role that's a lot more complicated than it might first appear. You really do feel that deep down, if circumstances allowed, she'd love Irons back. Cheung's role is mostly a symbolic one, but she handles it well. Not an easy film to watch, but moving.
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