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Foreign Shores: Wong Kar Wai’s Chungking Express (1994)

The real beauty of the film lies in the extremely rich visuals; the superb camera-work and the typical Wongish blend of music with the striking visuals.

Chungking Express

Here is another gem by Kar-Wai Wong, the master stylist from Hong Kong.

The story or, rather, stories of Chungking Express talks about love– true love, abruptly-ended love, unfinished love, doomed love, happy love, disturbed love… a whole lot of them. It delineates how a relationship is built up and how it is broken. How two persons, all of a sudden, come closer, and then, eventually, drift apart leaving a permanent mark on each other’s memory. How time, our very own individual time, is shaped through our memories– memories of love, affection, relationship.

But the real beauty of the film lies in the extremely rich visuals; the superb camera-work and the typical Wongish blend of music with the striking visuals. These alone hold together the two apparently disconnected stories. Sometimes the scene is blurred except for the main character; sometime there is intentional time lapse between shots; sometimes the crowd around the character move at a faster pace while the character moves in slow motion. I must also mention the exceptionally beautiful use of mise-en-scene in the film. Wong Kar Wai creates multiple screens within a single shot by cleverly using shadows, mirrors or glass objects.

Chungking Express

The characters, sometimes, exist at two different places at the same time or same places at different time. Often, the time-gap between two shots are deliberately missing (you will feel as if it is the continuation of the same shot, but actually it is the same place at some other time), giving you a vertiginous feeling of timelessness. And, of course, as I’ve already mentioned, there is this unforgettable mix of music and visuals. In a particularly striking scene in the second half of the film, when the protagonist makes love to his girlfriend, an airhostess by profession, in the background we hear the usual safety instructions announced in an aircraft, interspersed by a romantic song.

See also  First Look: Grandmasters by Wong Kar Wai

Last but not the least, is the acting. Who will forget the icy beauty of Brigitte Lin or the quirky extravagance of Faye Wang? Faye Wang instantly reminded me of Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady”. Career kickstarting performances by Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Takeshi Kaneshiro as well.

Overall, it is but a thorough feast for eyes and mind!

Prem

Founder/Creator of Talking Films. Created Talking films back in 2009 and has been an ardent cinema lover for the past 2 decades.

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