This is the 9th time I watch this movie again. The interesting thing is that every time after watching, there is a different feeling, and every time I discover something new that I did not notice before. This is like you and your lover, you two have loved each other for a long time, but you still never get bored of being with them, sometimes you discover a little novelty about the other person and feel refreshed by that feeling. Are we like that when we love a movie?
Happy Together tells about the couple Lai Yiu-Fai and Ho Po-Wing, they often break up and reunite, and every time like that, Ho Po-Wing takes the initiative. “Let’s start over”, that is Ho Po-Wing’s familiar saying when he wants to resume a relationship that he himself ended not long ago, and every time Yiu-Fai agrees. After a reunion, the two went to Argentina to travel, some troubles occurred and as usual Ho Po-Wing said goodbye. Due to the lack of money to return home, they were forced to stay stuck in Argentina to make money. Some things happened, the two resumed their relationship. Yiu-Fai took care of Ho Po-Wing, who was injured in his arm. The two lived happily together in a narrow room in the suburbs, but when Po-Wing’s wound healed, they broke up once again.
Happy together’s story is just that. The two split up, trying to reconnect but failed. Actually, in 1996, Wong Kar-wai intended to make a movie with two main actors, Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Maggie Cheung, but due to many difficulties, Wong left this project and went to Argentina to perform Happy together. The original idea of the film was just a relationship between two men, even the main character Wang had never thought of before leaving for Argentina. Perhaps even Wong Kar-wai himself did not expect, the lax way of making movies, how to think about it, would create such an impromptu and excellent film. It is a coincidence that another Wong Kar-wai classic, Chungking Express, was also made in a filmmaker style because “nothing to do”, “no matter where it is done”, and then turn around. into a masterpiece of world cinema. With both Happy Together and Chungking Express, the spontaneity that creates love in the movie has something very flying, very elusive, so it stays with viewers for a long, long time.
Happy Together deals with a relatively sensitive topic. To be honest, I was a bit hesitant about getting in touch with this movie. But that hesitation momentarily dissipates, the theme of this movie is not same-sex love, it is just love between two people together that accidentally they are two men. I am surprised how many people compare this film with Brokeback Mountain or Lan Yu. Because other than the two movies above, without a barrier of society, without any stigma, differences here, all completely equal. They are just people who love each other, want to find a tune but fail, but at least they have had a true lover and so they were happy together.
Love? Love is a little precarious, afraid when the person you love is not by your side. But love is also a peaceful stop when two people fall in love together. The uncertainty of love creates an elusive feeling of insecurity to love each other, but no one wants to be uncertain forever, they always want to find a peaceful stop. Conversely, love that is too peaceful can easily cause boredom, it takes a little uncertainty for people to understand the importance of love. This is like liking something, if you know it can leave you at any moment you will appreciate it more. Love in Happy Together is the same, simply like Wong Kar-wai , Po-Wing is an airplane and Yiu-Fai is an airport. The plane cannot fly forever, when it gets tired it needs a stop. But the airport couldn’t grasp where the plane was going, so it kept wanting the plane to stay with it.
But what’s worth mentioning here is, why the title of the film is Happy together while the two main characters end up breaking up. So in the end what is happiness together? As Wong Kar-wai confided: “Happy Together” not only focuses on the relationship between two people but also the relationship between a person and his past. If people are at peace with themselves and their past, that is the beginning of being able to live happily with another person. I agree with the statement of Wong Kar-wai, people need the past because there is the past to have the present, but people live with the present, not with the past. You also know that in 1997, Hong Kong, which was a British territory, was returned to China to form the one-country, two-regime policy. Just like Yiu-Fai, he finally accepts to leave the past, accepting change instead of lingering in his emotional circle. The character of Yiu-Fai reflected the changing psychology of most Hong Kong people at that time. The detail of Po-Wing hugging the blanket that Fai usually covers before leaving, or the scene of Yiu-Fai on the subway looking ahead is of that intent.
But the content of Happy Together is not just that. It is worth noting that although the film is very popular in Hong Kong, it is more popular mainland and internationally. This led me to relate to another Japanese film that also had a very simple plot, Tokyo Story. Although it is a movie about the story of Tokyo, it is a Japanese film that has a great influence on audiences outside of Japan. I think a lot of people like me don’t care how Hong Kong changes, how miniature Tokyo is. These two films have won over the audience because they have human values beyond its simple plot.
Both Yiu-Fai and Po-wing, if they have their strengths and also their weaknesses, sometimes they are cute and lovable, but sometimes they are also spoiled and rude, or in other words dimension of character makes them very human. Po-wing is the type of extrovert, while Yiu-Fai is an introvert. A quiet person, a talkative person, a lazy person, a hard worker. One person shows affection with words, with loving eyes, with tight arms, another shows by action, with care for the other person.
The difference in personality creates the attraction of love that makes them fall in love, but also causes them to fall apart. They love each other so much that they can stay up all night watching each other fall asleep, they love each other so much that when they miss each other so much they find ways to meet each other just to give a quick kiss, they love each other it is possible for the other person to work so hard to take care of the other little by little. Yiu-Fai can accept Po-wing’s erratic and sometimes ruthless demands. On the contrary, Po-wing also accepted Yiu-Fai ‘s rudeness and violence. But their problem is that they love each other but do not know how to express their love, not know how to tell the other person how they need each other. And that’s why they understand each other’s personalities but lack the sympathy that is needed to build a lasting relationship. One person likes freedom and cannot bear the attachment, while the other is conservative, wanting to hold back and possess the other.
A repeated image in the movie is the waterfall and lighthouse. The waterfall represents change, and the lighthouse represents a stop. These two images have a connection to the relationship between the two, Po-wing is like a waterfall, erratic and fickle, and Yiu-Fai looks like a lighthouse, fixed to conservative. Each person is closed in their own world, not open to each other and so even if they are together, they are lonely. But the core of the problem is that the film somehow made them try to find the other’s world in order to understand each other. For example, Po-wingaccepted a compromise, gave up his liberal life to go to his old inn to wait for Yiu-Fai , for the first time he knew how to clean and clean his house. On the contrary, Yiu-Fai also gambled for the first time, played naughty with another man for the first time at the cinema, and for the first time Yiu-Fai was the one who left, not the one waiting. By the end of the film, their roles are completely interchangeable.Yiu-Fai is a waterfall rolled away, and Bao Vinh is a lighthouse waiting for people to return. That is when they understand each other and learn to get in tune with each other. And so I believe that even if they get back together, they’ll be happy. Is their journey also the journey of each of us, we are individuals in all relationships, and if we try to understand, to be in tune with those around us, we will be happy. A film with a vicious story, with scenes revolving around a few houses, a few streets, a few cars. But its ideological content breaks out of that vicious circle, the characters know how to find a way out for their lives, we also know how to find a way out for the life of a constant deadlock.
As one of the best films by Wong Kar-wai, Happy Together has a sharp composition with black and white movies contrasting with color ones. Frequently used light is white, yellow and red, creating a strong visual impression, haunting the viewer both now and in the future. The face-cut angles like the image of Bao Vinh leaning against Dieu Huy’s shoulder peacefully, like the scene of Yiu-Fai’s warping in the middle of the boat, are very expensive scenes. The point here is that the way to shoot half the frame plus the street scenes, the hun-hun village creates something very mysterious that we want to curiously capture the life of the character. The music is great and is set very well for each scene and character’s mood, combined with the very impromptu storytelling to create unbelievable softness, fluidity and grace. It is not surprising that this is the only film Vuong Gia Ve won the Best Director award at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.
It will be really flawed when it comes to the success of Happy together without mentioning the shine of Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung. There is a funny thing is that at the time of the film screening, Leslie Cheung’s acting was not appreciated, although people could not criticize him at any point. They said that Leslie Cheung is not acting at all, this movie is just like he is repeating himself. I think that in order to convey such a true Po-wing to such a perfection, more than anyone, how hard he must try. In terms of acting, Leslie Cheung’s spoiled passionate acting, placed next to Tony Leung’s enduring contemplation, creates a very strong interaction that conquers the most demanding audience.
I used the image at the beginning of the article again to conclude, maybe gradually when I watched this movie, I also became somewhat vicious. But the scene of the two in a taxi when they return to the hospital is my favorite scene in the movie. As said from the beginning, this is the ninth time I’ve watched this movie. Of course I admit that it is not possible that some Happy Together fans can have the number plates of each car in the movie (laughs), but I can claim that I love and have a special connection with this movie. .
Watching this ninth film, I discovered interesting parallel scenes in the film, such as the scent of Yiu-Fai when he was forced to take pictures for guests at the beginning of the film, in contrast to how he happily took pictures for them. in the part after the two resumed their relationship. Or the scene of Po-wing asking for a cigarette at the beginning is also paralleled when he asks for Yiu-Fai’s medicine when he comes to get his watch back. A movie is really detailed, so detailed that no scene is redundant. Maybe at this hour next year, I will watch the 10th review of the film, and will definitely discover something again. Strangely unlike some other art movies, this one is really easy to watch, it is really entertaining moments that leave a lot of reflection. Usually milk coffee is easy to drink but you won’t remember the taste after that. Drinking black coffee is difficult to drink, but after drinking, remember the bitter sweet taste through the tongue. If so, what cafe is this movie?