Happy Together - (1997)
Director: Wong Kar-wai.
I was struck by the film's portrayal of an abusive relationship. The turbulent romance between the two lead characters, played by Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung, is fraught with emotional and physical abuse, and director Wong Kar-wai doesn't shy away from depicting the full extent of the damage it inflicts on both parties.
Despite the difficult subject matter, the film is a triumph of cinematography, particularly in the way that Christopher Doyle's style is executed. The use of hand held, wide angle lenses, motion, and slow motion, was very balanced and 'pure' (as in, it serves every moment perfectly without being gimmicky) This is especially impressive when compared to previous films by Wong Kar-wai and Doyle, such as "Chungking Express" and "Fallen Angels," which also featured Doyle's signature style but were not executed with the same level of balance.
The camera work is both intimate and sweeping, capturing moments of tenderness and passion alongside scenes of heartbreak and abuse.
I would also like to highlight another aspect of "Happy Together" that impressed me - the film's unique depiction of homosexuality. Unlike many other films that depict homosexual relationships, where the sexuality itself is often the conflict and the issue of the film, "Happy Together" takes a different approach.
In the film, the homosexuality of the two main characters is simply a given - it's not presented as a source of conflict or something that needs to be explained or justified. This is refreshing to see, and it allows the film to focus on the complex emotions and dynamics of the central relationship without getting bogged down in discussions of sexuality and identity.
Furthermore, the fact that the relationship between the two men is far from perfect, full of pain and abuse, is a testimony of the film's progressiveness. Nowadays many queer films depicts same sex relationship as something pure and magical, like fairytales about love. But "Happy Together" doesn't fall in to that trap of queer propaganda, it depicts the relationship with all of its human flaws and pains.
Overall, I appreciated the way that "Happy Together" portrayed homosexuality in such a unique and refreshing way. It's a film that doesn't shy away from exploring difficult subjects, but also manages to be progressive and inclusive in its depiction of love and relationships.
Overall, while "Happy Together" is a difficult and emotionally charged film, it is also a masterful work of cinema that showcases the best of Wong Kar-wai's vision and Christopher Doyle's cinematography. It's a film that is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who watches it.
Verdict: 5 / 5 ★ - must watch.