Reviews written by registered user
|15 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is about a relationship, which started with curiosity and
enthusiasm, through self-doubts, then ended with a broken heart along
with gained wisdom. To a certain extent, it is just like any other
romance story. What makes it different or thought-provoking is that the
woman in the story, Samantha, is actually a computer operation system.
They guy here is Theodore, who is soulful and sentimental.I am less interested in calling him creepy (as many people would) than acknowledging his loneliness and longing for a heartfelt connection. That explains his deliberate choice of continuing his relationship with Samantha. The lack of a physical form or even the lack of a human soul does not stop him from FEELING what he feels or more importantly, what he wants to feel. With Samantha, he has had a lot of fun and felt accepted. As Samantha tries to learn how to love, she collects data from Theodore by asking questions and identifying ( and sometimes emancipating) his emotions from his tone and language. This lavish show of interest from Samantha is hardly different from that of any romance relationship among human beings.
In this seemingly unlikely relationship, Theodore has transcended his physical need by applying his imagination (as shown in his sexual experience with Samantha). He accepts Samantha as who she is, and helps her forbear trying to be what she is not (someone with a human body). In this process, he learns how to communicate his needs and wants in a constructively way, as opposed to keeping silent but being passive aggressive (which partly explained why his marriage with Catherine ended) . Again, this kind of learning process is barely different from those of human beings.
The most critical point, when the fatal disappointment came about, happened when Theodore realized that Samantha does not just belong to him. The subjective reality, in which Theodore feels an intimate bond with Samantha, shattered when he came to realize that every personal interaction between both of them is not personal at all; there are thousands of other similar interactions taking place out there. All his personal feelings in this relationship are real, but the relationship itself is an illusion. It is this loss not just the loss of a relationship, but the loss of "being personal," the loss of authenticity - that hits Theodore most.
This is also how our interpersonal relationships nowadays are taking tolls.
In this film, how ironic it is for people to designate computers to create handwritten letters. How ironic it is for people designate someone else to write personal letters for their beloved. Whatever supposed to be personal turns out to be not authentic at all. Apparently, technology was allowed to advance so much that human people have gradually lost their instinct and ability to communicate in the process of evolution. Yet, technology should not be to blame. The loss of authenticity actually comes from within. In case of Theodore, his problem had already happened before he "encountered" Samantha.
Is Theodore authentic to himself? Instead of looking into the issues of his relationship with Catherine, whom he still loves dearly even after separation, he turns to Samantha. Why? It's because Samantha is always receptive, empathetic, and trying to help. Catherine is probably right in saying that he just wants a wife "without the challenge of actually dealing with anything real." How many people are just like Theodore? Whether knowingly or unknowingly, we moved on to the next relationship, because it is easier to move on than facing the weaknesses in ourselves. It needs courage to confront our issues, let alone working on it. As confessed by Theodore himself, he did not express to Catherine what he was not happy with, but the way he reacted just put a lot of pressure on her. If he had understood it earlier, he could have saved his marriage. At least, maybe.
But then, what ironic is that he did not get this insight until he ran into problem with Samantha. The reason why it was Samantha, but not Theodore's human wife, who can get him understand his problem is that, Samantha is so ready to learn all the time. When she makes a mistake, she will adjust herself, and re-calculate for the next move in order to fulfill her functions as an operation system. For human beings, there are so many reasons why we just cannot or do not work this way. We do not always admit our mistakes; we may put the blames on others; we look for excuses; we may refuse to change or compromise; we want our own way; we might put our autonomy before relationships (various kinds). In doing all these (or some of these), we are not making our relationships (of any kind) work. We lose in a relationship when we don't listen and learn. It is avoidance. As we avoid, we focus on covering up our weaknesses and hiding our vulnerability in order to protect our true self. Sadly enough, without authenticity, we will never be able to reach another person at an intimate level. That is how our interpersonal relationships take tolls.
The film definitely ends on a positive note. After the roller-coaster ride of emotions, Theodore came up with a new understanding of his relationship with his ex-wife. The breakthrough came about as he personally and genuinely communicated his feelings to Catherine in a mail. Meanwhile, he has the companionship of his friend Amy, to whom he can open his heart and feel fine being vulnerable. This friendship lasts; this friendship works.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ip Man, as a character, is by no means similar to those in WKW's previous films. He is open, strong, courageous, honorable, and resilient. That alone can already be considered a breakthrough to the director's creations. Here I just want to talk about one particular scene, my favorite, in which Ip Man met with Gong's assistant towards the end. I watched The Grandmaster on a flight from Hongkong, and I had to replay this scene three times: Once for ensuring what Gong Er says, a thought that most people probably want to agree but don't quite dare to agree: she chose to stay in a time when she felt happiest. Once for finding a clue: Ip Man hid his admiration only in the coat button, while Gong Er hid hers along with a whole life of buried happiness in that tiny box of hair ash... Sad as it was, how was Ip Man supposed to take this keepsake?! Once for "relishing" this unique WKW styled melancholy, the determination/stubbornness for love, whatever kind it might be. As to the music, despite the fact that Shigeru Umebayashi constantly partners with WKW, never could I expect the soundtrack of And Then 其後 would be reused here. This piece of music is too heartbreakingly beautiful. Although it has been in my soundtrack collection for many years, and I love it, I seldom listen to it. Hearing it in this long-awaited film exactly feels like finding something you lost since forever. The music is not original, but it does perfectly match the emotions of the characters, especially the sense of loss, rootlessness, and forlornness.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Master, as all good films do, requires the audience to engage
themselves in a lot of thinking. I was not surprised at those who
laughed at inappropriate places or complained that they couldn't wait
to get out the theater.
The Master is getting more and more intriguing as the relationship between Freddie and Lancaster is getting increasingly codependent, and the truth behind the so-called treatment is subject to more and more doubts and attacks. Towards the end, the abandonment by the master, and the poor attempt of Freddie to develop an identity as a master, created a strong sense of tragic, irony, and darkness. Freddie was nothing short of a monster, but he evokes my sympathy in the last few scenes. The ending is brilliant and powerful.
As the film ended, a few thoughts came to my mind: How do people find or handle the truth? How do people LIE TO THEMSELVES as well as others? Who is whose master? How do they "master" each other? How people create their facades? How do people respond to manipulation? How do they choose whom to trust? How do a person's experiences/ environment shape his life? All characters have answered these questions through their behaviors. Paul Thomas Anderson has not left a single moment that is not addressing to these questions. Every scene has a point to make.
It is interesting to notice that, Freddie has a resilient side that Lancaster has never had, that is, the courage for transformation. Regardless how unconventional or unorthodox Lancaster's approach is, Freddie did respond well and subsequently go through a positive change, from someone who had absolutely no awareness of his own behaviors to someone who embraces his past, though not totally successful yet, in order to sort out what he cares most. For him, Doris is what he can't let go most, because she is the first and only one who ever loved him, and her love was innocent, simple, unconditional, and peaceful. Audience can only see Freddie's tenderness when he thinks of Doris. At the beginning of the film, he failed to go back to Doris despite his promise. However, after the treatment provided by his master, he mustered enough courage to find her. When he realized Doris had married, he did not act out. All he did was just walking away with disappointment and hiding himself in a cinema. He did not pick any fight for no reason, which is what he would do in the past.
In contrast, Lancaster, from the beginning to the end, he just keeps running. Apparently, he runs away from big cities where his research is torn up by scientists with no mercy. So he runs to the countryside, and from one state to another, and eventually exiled himself and his family to another country. Psychologically, he uses up all his energy to cover the flaws in his research and the lies he made. At some point, he was in the same dead-end like Freddie, being trapped by the craps they had created themselves. But unlike Freddie, Lancaster didn't try facing the reality. He could have made a breakthrough for his research if he continued working with Freddie. To a certain extent, Lancaster's approach did work on Freddie. Under the master's care (despite his selfish motive), Freddie experienced trust, loyalty, acceptance, and kindness again. If Lancaster had used Freddie's case as a starting point, and dug further into the approach used on Freddie in a formal scientific way, he might have developed some real treatment for psychotherapy. Yet, Freddie is only considered as an object in an experiment. His feelings is none of the concerns. Lawrence needs Freddie only because he is the only proof that can be used for his research. As soon as the research was blown, Freddie has nothing more for Lancaster to exploit, so the relationship ends.
For Lancaster, lying and avoiding are easier. It is not sure how mindful he is of the fact that he can only find himself forever stuck with his BS of time traveling. Lancaster could have saved himself and Freddie. But he failed because he chose to avoid his problems. He cannot even be his own master. He failed Freddie in particular; his abandonment of Freddie is unforgivable because whatever positive happened to Freddie is once again destroyed. Freddie became a lost soul again. As a master, Lancaster is a total loser.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just as I expected, seeing this film is an engrossing experience!Every
quiet moment has a lot to offer.
I feel like being the autopsy doctor in the story, but instead of examining a corpse, the audience examines the character's minds. Delving into the doctor's mind turns out to be incredibly intriguing for me! It is very interesting to see the person who is supposed to be the most observant turns out to be the most oblivious, and the person who is supposed to be the most cool-headed turns out to be the most empathetic.
The film is abundant with complicated interactions among the conscious, the unmindful, and the subconscious minds. In one of the excellent scenes, all the main characters are sitting in a room which is poorly lit with a flickering gasoline lamp. The angelic face of the mayor's daughter serves like a psychological blank screen, revealing the demons of each of the main characters without they themselves noticing it. (As audience, we only more surely, but not definitely, understand what the demons are when the film comes to the end. ) While the characters project their feelings to the innocent figure, the camera pans to the distorted shadow on the wall of the mayor's daughter against the lamp light, hinting at the Allegory of the Cave. The analogy is indeed masterfully posited here foreshadowing the paradox in truth-finding, the theme of the story. The other must-mention scene is,of course, the ending, which is symbolized by the blood stain on the doctor's face. The stain is no different from a scornful spit from the deceased victim, and the justice system. It is also, however, an ethical choice, a moral decision that he deliberately made to spare the pain of the victim's family.
Truth can be accessed by only few people, and exclusively by those who consciously stay mindful. For the rest of the people, they may not even know whether they can handle the truth.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If certifying an art piece as a copy means defining the authenticity of
its original, watching Certified Copy means reviewing how much ideals,
expectations, and fantasies about love you have projected to your life.
What does your true self intrinsically need from love? And, how do time
and life changes affect your perspective?
James the protagonist would rather challenge himself with one of the most difficult writing tasks, i.e. endorsing the originality of art work, than get engaged in the search for an authentic love. For marriage, he holds a pessimistically detached attitude, which is seen at different points in the film, and cannot be clearer when he refused to take a picture with the young couple at the popular wedding spot. For him, marriage is just a copy of an image of what people think love should ultimately lead to, but marriage is not exactly what love is meant to be. For him, love should be liberating (like the way that Cypress trees extend their branches); it cannot be maintained without adaptation to changes, including changes caused by the lapse of time, new responsibilities, career ambition, etc. His detachment towards Juliet Binoche (who played the nameless character, the woman who sometimes seems to be his wife and sometimes simply seems to be a book fan) may be an expression of his insistence on the originality of love.
Binoche is the opposite of James. She gives values to copies, even though she recognizes the superiority of originals. This is reflected in her antique shop, where both originals and copies are displayed and sold. While James shows contempt to Original Copy, she highly regards it. (Original Copy is the painting copy which was mistaken as the original for such a long time that it eventually got acknowledged as a valuable art work and displayed in the Tuscany museum). For her, love is an ideal but not without responsibilities. Marriage may be just an illusion of love, but it can be just as real and rewarding if you believe in it hard enough and work on it hard enough. Unfortunately, she is in love with someone who does not share the same value as her, someone who does not want his own liberal spirit to be inhibited by responsibilities, and someone who does not conform to the inferiority of copies.
The most intriguing part of the story is that you never know the relationship between James and Binoche. Obviously this is not a mystery to solve, but an idea to play with. You can see them as two people who newly met, but just play along after being mistaken as a couple. Both of them have demonstrated certain transference as the story goes, but Binoche was almost overtaken by it. Unintentionally, they projected their feelings towards their spouse onto each other. You can also see James as the constantly unavailable husband of Binoche, a man who needs to be free from obligations to enjoy life. It is interesting to note that, what seems to be confusing to viewers is plain and clear to the people around these two persons they all see them as a couple, including the waitress, the new young couple at the church, the old couple by the fountain, and the inn keeper. For us viewers, the confusion did not start until after the conversation between the waitress and Binoche. From then on, James and Bionche started role playing or revealing their past. Either way, the process is punctuated by intense and emotional moments. It raised the questions of how we react to others' interpretation of us, what constitutes their interpretation, and how our reaction to the interpretation affects us in return. If one's identity is shaped by - or worse- caters to other's interpretation, how authentic can his life remain? How well are we aware of our true self? How much does awareness matter?
I love the way that the director uses the camera. At some points, the viewer feels like standing behind a two-way mirror watching the characters. At some points, the viewer feels like sitting in the position of James or Binoche, being looked right into the eyes and talked to. At some other points, the viewer feels like being in the position of the new couple, whom Binoche was waving at. The open ending is excellent. The question that is left to be answered is whether James took the train and left, or he stayed with Binoche.How to draw the line between the value of originality and the value of copies? Are you going to compromise? What is the standard for a "certified copy"? What are acceptable and not acceptable for an authentic love/life?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was disappointed that most critiques of Into the Wild have romanticized the story way too much. The highlighted ideas, ranging from going back to nature/the innocence, being true, to abandoning materialism, plus the beautiful scenery gave me all the reasons to watch this movie, which is based on the true story of Chris McCandless. With these expectations in my mind, I could not have anticipated to see a young man, despite his curiosity for the meaning of life, waste himself by indulging in anger and extremes. Yes, the story tells us what led to the anger and we understand his pain. I also acknowledge the positive influence McCandless brought for the people he met on his journey. I am even impressed by his uncommonly high moral standard and his open mind to people living on the edge. But, his stubbornness and insistence to stay in the wild was due to his hatred and the urge to revenge his parents. His ultimate goal of finding the truth was a disguised, if not self-deceit, mission to prove his parents' wrongdoings. The hypocrites or even the society he talked about are not anybody but his parents. The ways he chose to find, to reveal, to use the truth all show that he just wanted to hurt his parents and make them guilty. Connecting to nature is one thing, but subjecting oneself to the wilderness without backup or a well thought plan is another. It is reckless and ignorant no matter how much courage or stamina is involved. It is a disheartening story, and definitely not romantic or poetic, with nothing worth glorification except the beauty of nature. I have a lot of empathy for the protagonist and his family, but find the so-called adventure pointless. In contrast, the subplots manage to be geared to the evolving of mutual growth for the characters, including Chris McCandless himself. It is a pity that the built-up of these growths did not sublime soon enough for him to make a rational choice. I sincerely believe that with his intelligence and sense of justice, Chris McCandless could have led a very meaningful life for himself and for the disadvantageous. I was feeling unusually upset when I saw him so blinded from other alternatives. It felt so sad when I looked at his dad break down. The greatest performance was found towards the end of the movie where William Hurt, who looked calm, stepping out of the house, inside which Mom was setting the table for Thanksgiving (or Christmas?) dinner. First a wide shot showed him looking up the sky. Then a close-up showed his face grimacing in pain with his bloodshot eyes. His whole body was drastically trembling. He was actually trying to stop his tears running down his face when he looked up in the previous wide shot. He tried so hard to repress his sadness but it turned out to be a break down. He fell onto the ground in the yard, sitting there with his tightly clinched fists twitching, and crying in total distress. What a heartbreaking scene The bright side on the whole is that, Chris McCandless eventually forgave his parents and felt love for them upon his death.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Revolutionary Road has been adapted from the same named novel of
Richard Yates. The setting is a suburban area on the east coast in the
mid-1950s. Surely there have been many changes of values in gender,
society, and family over the decades. Yet,Revolutionary Road, whether
the film or the novel, has never lost its power of confronting us,
people living in the globalized 21st century, with all the existential
issues questions about life. This is the only movie that I have ever
seen which can pose philosophical questions directly yet without
compromising the engaging power of drama to its audience. It throws at
us with questions about the meaning of life, our responsibility to live
an authentic life, our freedom to make choices and decisions, our
desire to connect with others and maintain independence, the fine line
between the sane and the insane, the limitations of life, etc.
Apparently, April and Frank are diametrically opposite. April is revolutionary, striving for making changes and acting out her desires; Frank is reactionary, always playing safe and following paths opened by others. But, this is not true. Frank was ambitious before marriage. He conformed to the norm for a while, but deep down he felt regretful for the lost dream. Without that intrinsic desire, April would not be able to talk him into moving to Paris at all. (Again, Paris is just a symbol). What is less obvious but crucial for the development of the story is April's passiveness to life. All we see is she pushing Frank to live a life he wants. But what about her? What is her passion about life? We just vaguely know that she wants to be special and live an interesting life. But what exactly it is about? Acting, maybe. But she decided to quit after some setback. Instead of dealing with her own disappointment, fear, uncertainty towards her dream, she averts her frustration by imposing her dream on Frank, making him believe it and actualize it. In doing so, she saved herself from failure to achieve her dream. But, she forbore her responsibility to live a life she wants. In short, both April and Frank possess the same two conflicting dynamics in their minds. It is just that the director highlights the contrast between the pair in order to create a tug-of-war situation, which effectively generates a tension throughout the movie. It is very hard to side with either April or Frank because they were in one in the first place. Personally, half of me goes with April and half of me goes with Frank.
Despite the fact that the story is thickly embedded with philosophical propositions, Revolutionary Road is still a very touching love story. From the moment April thrust her dream into Frank's hand, their love was doomed. Being disillusioned and feeling trapped in a life she hates, April became numb to life. There was no more love in her. As what she and Frank had said to their lunatic neighbor, life became empty and hopeless to April. That's how the love's gone. So was the unborn baby. So was April. A funny question arises from Frank's definition of insanity: according to Frank, insanity is the inability to communicate with another human being and inability to love. How many of us are totally sane then?
As always, DiCaprio's acting is wonderful. He is particularly convincing when getting across the vulnerability of Frank. Kate Winslet performs well. However, when I expected some liveliness in April at certain points in the movie, I did not see it. The dialogues and the cinematography are very clever and powerful. We as the audience might have left the theater with a lot of questions that we fear to answer. Just as likely, we might have walked away in reminiscene of our own struggles about living truthfully.
This is a dense movie and worth another viewing at least.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is a must-see for Kar-wai Wong's fans. I guarantee that you will not
be disappointed as you might have felt towards My Blueberry Nights,
which is not bad but just missing something that makes the movie a bit
shy of the director's usual style the lingering melancholy and subtle
poignancy. Surely it is not easy for non-Chinese viewers to be
convinced by wuxia stories, which is usually quasi-historical and
surrealistic. But, I hope westerners will not be deterred by the genre
because what is more important is the characters' thoughts and
feelings. Those in wuxia stories are just as real as any other dramas.
There are seven characters and the relationships among them seem a bit
complicated. Judging from the Chinese title of the movie, one can tell
that the story between Ouyang Feng and Huang Yaoshi is the main plot
and others are just the subplots.
Huang Yaoshi is deeply in love with The Woman (Maggie Cheung), but she never loves him. Her love is Ouyang Feng who disappointed her however by allegedly taking her love for granted. So she married to his older brother. Ouyang Feng then moved to the desert and lived in solitude. To give himself an excuse for seeing The Woman, Huang Yaoshi befriended with Ouyang Feng and visited him every year. He collected stories about Ouyang Feng and reported back to The Woman. The interesting things are: how much did Ouyang Feng know about the friendship between Huang Yaoshi and The Woman? Could he guess the intention of the annual visit? Did he always know that the (so-called memory erasing) Magic Wine is from his sister-in-law when it was first brought to him by Huang Yaoshi? Did he refuse to try it simply because he does not believe in magic? Or, because he did not want to forget The Woman even she caused so much pain? He however drank it after finding out that The Woman had died. Does it mean that he was secretly hoping for a chance to see her again and so willing to bear the pain associated with his memory?
Huang Yaoshi claimed himself to be the loser (in love) at the very beginning because he never got the love from The Woman and probably also because he did not even dare to express his love to her. He is a good seducer, but he could only acts as a gentleman confidant in front of The Woman. His bitterness is evidenced by his withdrawal to live as a hermit after her death. Ouyang Feng says Huang Yaoshi wanted to know how it feels when being loved and that is why he would make women like him. It is sad to Huang Yaoshi because he totally missed the point. He does not need to know how it feels when being liked. He just needs to know how it feels when being liked by a woman he cares.
Maggie Cheung stole the show with her performance at the scene where she confessed that she lost to herself as well as Ouyang Feng in their relationship. For her, her love was not appreciated and the only way she could earn her pride back was to shun him altogether. No wonder she was drawn to Ouyang Feng because he is just egoistic as her. For him, he avoids rejection by rejecting others first. But, were they manipulating each other? No, they were just protecting themselves. Sadly they did not know that acting against their own true feelings was actually hurting themselves and each other. Again, no wonder only Ouyang Feng (not Huang Yaoshi) can see through the meaning of the Magic Wine to know what you have forgot, you have to remember what to forget.
The subplot of Murong Yan/Yin is really confusing. And, personally, I am hardly sympathized with her. As to the purpose of the subplot, towards the end, as Ouyang Feng said that it is not difficult to say "You are the one I love the most" if you are not speaking for yourself. This remark foretells that he is incapable of expressing his love. The subplot also brings in the main plot when Ouyang Feng was imagining his sister-in-law was touching him. The bird cage is a funny prop in the movie. It seems to be suggesting that the characters are just like the birds trapped.
The Blind Swordsman is the most interesting figure outside the main plot. Like Ouyang Feng, he ran away from home after heartbreak. What is different is that his wife, Peach Blossom still loves him and waiting for him. But, he could not forgive her betrayal. He wants to kill Huang Yaoshi (whom his wife falls for) but failed. When the swordsman found Huang Yaoshi, he could not see due to night blindness. After that, he started to work for Ouyang Feng as a contract killer. (It is unclear whether he knew about the relationship between Ouyang Feng and Huang Yaoshi.) Apparently, he just took it as a job, but how much did he do it for money; how much was it of self-destruction and how much did he do it for helping The Girl revenge her brother?
Hong Qi is the only character who is not troubled by women. The subplot about him is to show the unreachable ideal of Ouyang Feng, that is, to be true to oneself and do what the heart tells. It is Hong Qi's attitude to life in jianghu as well as to his woman.
Desert is the best choice for the setting of the story. The harshness and scarcity of lives in desert parallel the emptiness of the characters' souls; the climatic extremity corresponds to the contradicted feelings harbored in each of their minds. Last but not least, the music is marvelous. It trembles your emotions. As to the cinematography, did Christopher Doyle ever disappoint you? Just fantastic as always!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The trailer of Definitely Maybe doesn't do any justice to the movie at all. I probably would not have seen it if I had not found it on the movie channel while I was on a flight and had nothing better to do. This is a lovely refreshing treat if you are indifferent to those romance stories starting with instant mutual attraction then flirtation and then sex. Will (Ryan Reynolds) is not a handsome guy by all means but he is, on the whole, sincere and honest to his ideal, friends, girl friends and daughter. He expresses his thoughts and feelings with no façade even when he knows his opinion might incur a good slap on his face. These days words like "sexy", "hot", "cute" are used way too often to such an extent that I simply feel nauseous. How about "genuine"? Isn't it a good quality? It means something, doesn't it? (Will is pretty genuine, an extreme opposite of the people in "Closer," which is a good movie ( almost a thriller) but will never become my favorite because of the disturbance provoked in me by the characters, who are lying, controlling and playing mind games at all times.) April is quite a character. Isla Fisher has a sweet face, which helps win favor from audience. However, April does not win Will's heart with her face. Apparently she is an average mindless office girl, but she is not. If Will had not had set his mind on Emily and Summer, he would have noticed earlier that April is actually an intelligent liberal like himself. She is caring and sentimental. She was lost for a while but she grew fast after she had regained her strong will to find the meaning of life. The plot about Will and April mainly plays with the timing issue. But, if Emily had not cheated because of her momentous weakness to loneliness, and if Summer had not betrayed Will for her career ambition, would they have been a better match for Will? It seems to be pointless to ask this question unless you believe, like me, that April is intrinsically the best person among the three and that Will eventually falls in love with April not just because his previous relationships failed, but because he truly loves April most.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is a delightful story with beautiful cinematography. But, compared
with previous works of WKW, My Blueberry Nights does not touch me as
much. Elizabeth, the main character, never got too involved with the
people she met in her soul-searching journey. At best, she was just a
companion and observer, without evoking any transformation of others.
Nonetheless, there is something special in each character that make the
story interesting. Jeremy and Lynn are particularly intriguing to me.
Lynn said she did not hate Arnie, a husband she deserted a while ago. All she wanted was him letting her go. She turned to one guy after the other. After Arnie's death, she decided to leave Memphis, where she felt suffocated for living in a small town. I simply couldn't help asking why she did not leave for a place she liked before Arnie's death? Why did she allow herself to be tangled with her husband and torture him as if he had ruined her life? What prevented her from doing what she wants? It seemed that she just knew what she did not want - Arnie. But, what did she want? Is there a purpose served by the enmeshment between them? It seems to me that Lynn has an unaccomplished life goal of her own. She wanted to fly but failed. Instead of facing up to her own problem and looking for the ways to fly, she not only put the blame on Arnie, but also aimlessly played the role of an "untamable" wife, as set up for her by Arnie's neediness and possessiveness. For Lynn, Arnie is responsible for her unhappiness, so Arnie should be hated and punished for dragging her down. And so, she is apathetic to Arnie's suffering. Not until Arnie died, did she realize all the problems were actually lying within her. It was she who did not dare to make a choice for herself, but followed the path paved for her by others. It was she denying herself a life she wanted. When she cried over Arnie at the site of the car crash, was she also crying for her failure to recognize her avoidance of self-determination?
Jeremy has the typical personality that most male characters have in Wong Kar Wai's movies, that is, stubbornly persistent, sentimental, sensitive, observant, empathetic (but self-absorbed sometimes) as well as reticent. (Personally speaking, Jeremy is even more lovable because he enjoys eating desserts!) He kept all the keys dropped by his restaurant customers because he did not want to decide for them who can or cannot enter their lives. He said by keeping the keys, he left the door open for the key owners. Philosophical as it sounds, how much is this actually the projection of his wish on those who gave up their keys? Doesn't it make sense that giving up the key already means a final decision of ending a relationship? Yet, he believed that some customers might return to take back the keys. I think he believed so just as much as he wished Katya, his previous lover, to pick up his key and come back to him. She did come back eventually only to say goodbye, however. After that, Jeremy got rid of all those keys and changed his restaurant for a new look. This clearly shows that Jeremy finally put an end to his unfinished business and opened a new door for himself. As we know, Elizabeth just so happened to be by the doorstep. Other than the timing factor, what else brought Jeremy and Elizabeth together? Why Elizabeth, but not someone else, or not another key-dropper? Probably what make Elizabeth different are her reluctance and hesitance towards letting go the past. In the beginning, Jeremy empathy to Liz is like her empathy to the untouched blueberry pies. But then, after hugging along while helping Liz work through the pain, Jeremy was touched by what was common between them - the heartbreak of being abandoned.
As a WKW's fan, bitterness soared up to my chest once I heard the harmonica version of Yumeji's theme - score from In the Mood for Love - being played in the background for the scene where the two of them were watching the tape which evidenced the betrayal of Elizabeth's boyfriend. It is the best part of the whole story because it shows how a subtle empathetic act beautifully brings upon a big impact on two people. Liz was inspired to work on her unfinished business by hitting the road so as to get ready for new love, while Jeremy was so moved by Liz's genuineness towards love that he opened his heart again.
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