Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chungking Express review

Chungking Express is comprised of two love stories set in the busy streets of Hong Kong connected by way of a take-out restaurant. The first story explores a connection between a drug dealer who loses her shipment (Brigitte Lin in one of her last starring roles) and a lonely cop 223 (Takeshi Kanshiro) still hung up on his ex-girlfriend. The second story deals with another lovelorn cop (Tony Leung) who befriends a detached lovable cashier (Faye Wong) at the restaurant. She gains access to his apartment and begins to amuse herself by changing little details and seeing if he notices.

The Good?
Pretty much everything. Wong Kar-Wai creates characters that are impossible not to love. All four have their own cute, little idiosyncrasies that define them and make even the most insignificant scenes worth watching.

Wai’s use of sentimentality stays away from cliché and feels so genuine and earnest. The two cops are hopeless romantics; one who believes his apartment is crying because it misses his ex, and the other who jogs because he wants to dehydrate his body so he can’t cry. Wai’s writing builds everything from these tiny details that feel like poetry, capturing and revealing strange, specific feelings to which we completely relate. It’s hard to be original about love, but Wai accomplishes it.

The most acclaimed facet of the film is Wai’s technical mastery and ability to capture a mood and location. Cinematographer Christopher Doyle drops us in the frenzy of Hong Kong with grainy handheld footage and a blurred, impressionist composition that has defined Wai’s career.

The visuals, coupled with a gorgeous, almost haunting ambiance and the Mamas and the Papas on repeat, set a dreamy mood that you’ll lovingly remember as one-of-a-kind. This is THE romantic comedy.

The Bad?
Nothing, really. People say its all style with no substance, but they are generally wrong.


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