75 Films From Asia: HAPPY TOGETHER (1997)

Happy Together (1997), is a beautiful and sensual film from Wong Kar-wai that is a special achievement from the incredible director.

CREDIT: Kino International

There is not a lot of filmmakers that I can say that I fell in love with their work just one movie in. Now having watched Chungking Express (1995) and In The Mood For Love (2000), I can say that Wong Kar-wai has definitely made it to one of my favorite directors of all time. Even though those two films are hard to top it does not take away from this heartbreaking but sensual piece of art. Wong Kar-wai once again shows me that there is something so special to the way he crafts his movies. There is a sort enticing but saddening aspect about Happy Together (1997) that pours out of the screen when you watch it.

The film revolves around a turbulent romance between its protagonists, Ho Po-Wing and Lai Yiu-fai as they live in Buenos Aires, Argentina after moving from Hong Kong. It is filled with beautifully stylized love scenes and stunning chemistry between the two actors. You can totally feel the romance between the two of them, but most importantly you can feel the heartbreak both feel not being able to be there for each other. Both of them even though similar in ways are completely different opposites that attract.

The film combats homophobia, sex work, love, loneliness, obsession, and heartbreak on top of more minor themes. Kar-wai never fails to show the ups and downs of their relationship while creating a stylized piece of art. Everything from the music choices to the coloring choices makes the movie as exquisite as it feels. The picture never fails to depict its characteristics while also aiming to create something different from other romance films.

It is not as great as In The Mood For Love (2000) but it is also not a bad film by any means. I am sure that Wong Kar-wai does not even know what it means to make a bad movie. All three of these movies form him feel special, and they are all filled with something to fall in love with throughout its runtime.

Watch Happy Together (1997) on the Criterion Channel. Follow along with the rest of this challenge on Letterboxd or the google doc that has the rest of the films on this challenge.

“It’s a good lie.”

A Review of the farewell

Photo Credit: businessinsider.com

This may be the most difficult review I will ever have to write for a movie.  Lulu Wang has created art which crosses all thresholds and is relatable to any audience. The Farewell is masterful in dredging up familiar moments.  Moments which include the happiness of family gatherings to the horrible, gut-churning acceptance of a reality where cancer may soon take your patriarch. 

Its portrayals of the ridiculousness of how families deal with both marriage and death are both different yet recognizable.  Even though this family is predominately of Chinese origins, any race or culture can understand and appreciate the events happening on the screen in their own lives.  Even the dinner scenes have those similar bickering moments between relatives we’ve all had to be witness to.  This is a film whose emotional connection to its audience may be unmatched by any film which has ever come before it (and I do not say this lightly). 

The superb casting works hand in hand with the script to create a family unit that comes across as being real and not one haphazardly thrown together to be portrayed on the big screen.  I would be very surprised and disappointed if Awkwafina does not garner a Best Actress Oscar Nomination for her portrayal of Billi, the somewhat somber and cynical grandchild of the bubbly and full of life (and also unfortunately cancer) Nai Nai, played by Zhao Shuzhen.  The supporting cast also help to carry the burden of Nai Nai’s cancer (as they refuse to tell her as to not scare her to an earlier grave) throughout the film.  Their interactions help show every side of a family trying to deal with the ever-looming presence of death including humor, guilt, and heartbreak. 

The vulnerability presented in The Farewell is as unnerving as it is beautiful.  This along with the ending scene, which is almost a guarantee to elicit the waterworks, is why I am calling this the best film of the year and it is only September. 10/10 long cries. YoungYoda out.

(P.S. This review is purposely short as words are difficult when it comes to the emotional intensity of this film.  My suggestion is to go watch it and understand where I’m coming from.  Much love.)