A story of a turbulent gay love affair between the monogamous Lai Yui-Fai and Ho Po-wing, who is constantly looking for new partners, trying to renew their relationship by moving to Buenos Aires, Happy Together earned Kar-wai the 1997 Best Directing award in Cannes and cemented his position as an art-house superstar.
A longtime fan of Julio Cortazar’s experimental prose and Manuel Puig’s politically charged romance novels, Wong Kar-wai’s most passionate film was shot in Argentina and instantly became a classic of new queer cinema. Capturing past events in black and white and the present in color, it simultaneously sets chronological order and creates a contrast between the lives of Po-wing and Yiu-fai together and separately. Hong Kong queer icon Leslie Cheung (Farewell My Concubine) and Kar-wai’s talismanic Tony Leung (In the Mood for Love) portray one of the most incompatible couples in film history, passionate and morbidly codependent. As the film came out in 1997 when the UK handed Hong Kong over to China, some call it a political allegory of the troubled relations between the two countries.
With Happy Together, the director references his previous works (Yiu-fai is often compared to Tony Leung’s blind swordsman in Ashes of Times) while also laying the basis for the next one—the heterosexual grand melodrama In the Mood for Love, where the protagonists’ shrill shots in the back seat of a taxi, along with mesmerizing scenes repeated as a refrain will migrate. To speak out and express his feelings, one hero uses a tape recorder, while the other goes to the southernmost lighthouse in South America. Tony Leung’s Mister Chow in In the Mood for Love will act likewise, leaving his love for Su in Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
The film will be screened in Cantonese, Mandarin, and Spanish with Russian subtitles.
Dir. Wong Kar-wai
Hong Kong, 1997. 96 min. 18+