Happy Together (1997)

Happy Together Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Happy Together Movie Review

Happy Together is a 1997 Chinese romance film directed by Wong Kar-wai and starring Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung. It is a very good, poignant film.

It follows a Hong Kong couple who visit Argentina hoping to renew their ailing relationship. The two share a very tumultuous relationship full of abuse and breakups. Now frankly this plot is nothing remarkable nor is it original. And we’ve seen relationships and characters like this before in a number of movies. But the film is still very good as it makes the most use of its situations and characters and, thanks to Wong Kar-wai’s direction, it becomes an understated, elegant work.

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Turns out that lonely people are all the same.

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Happy Together Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

If I have to be honest, ‘In the Mood for Love’ is to me a much better crafted movie. I know this is the first movie to be released, but the aforementioned movie has a much more memorable ending which is very similar here, but never as epic. The score is the reason why this movie is inferior as it is never as beautiful as it was there.

But that ending is still strong and this is the first time we see the director tackle with his signature style of mixing romance and moving human drama with powerful landscapes, good music and an otherworldly atmosphere. And he did once again mostly a great job here and did elevate this familiar material in the process. In the hands of a different director, this would have been a standard romance. But in the hands of Wong Kar-wai, it becomes something much more than that.

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Happy Together Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

I loved Happy Together’s theme of loneliness. It beautifully showcases romantic yearning, but also a yearning for home country and both are the strongest forms of loneliness, both very well utilized here. As for the characters, both are typical, yet very well developed and you really feel like you met them. The relationship between the two is so strong and I like that it ended on a sad note as a happy ending here would have been out of place.

The subplot with Chang definitely feels like it is tacked on suddenly as that literally happened because the director had to fill in space because Leslie Cheung was away and couldn’t film during that time. But even though it does feel far from obligatory, it is still very beautiful and this character is so tragic and I just loved the scenes with him and Lai.

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Happy Together Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Happy Together is exceptionally well filmed and well paced as well. It is another slow, but deliberately slow paced movie from the director, but it is still very involving and never boring to watch which I admired. But even though the cinematography is strong and I loved its use of black and white and found it to be polished and esthetically pleasing, I still had trouble with its presentation of Argentina as it was portrayed as too poor and dirty. The acting is one of the strongest aspects here with everyone doing a great job, but of course Tony Leung steals the show and delivers another great performance. He truly is a great actor. And I liked that the film was very erotic, but never too much and it was more sensual in quality. It isn’t a great movie, but it most certainly is very good and quite respectable at times.

Happy Together does have a familiar story and characters, but Wong Kar-wai lifted this material with an expectedly terrific direction, the film is emotional and very sensual, I really liked its subplot, the ending was satisfying and it deals with tumultuous relationships and loneliness in a very realistic and heartfelt manner. 

My Rating – 4

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Posted in 1990s, 1997, Chinese, FILM DECADES, Foreign, MOVIE REVIEWS, Romance and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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