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With: Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Chang Chen
Written by: Wong Kar-wai
Directed by: Wong Kar-wai
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Cantonese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 97
Date: 29/04/1997

Happy Together (1997)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Tango & Flash

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Wong Kar-wai's 1997 feature was a step in a new direction for the very stylish and always fascinating Hong Kong director. It's a fairly straightforward tale of displaced love and friendship, taking place very conspicuously in Argentina, rather than Hong Kong (during the year of the handover).

Tony Leung Chiu Wai narrates and stars as Lai, who would up there with his lover Ho (the late Leslie Cheung). After a failed attempt to see some famous waterfalls, the couple splits, though both are too broke to go back home. The responsible Lai gets a job and winds up taking care of the more unpredictable Ho when he breaks his hands. At the same time, Lai meets a Taiwanese fellow traveler working at the same restaurant, Chang (Chang Chen), and begins an ambiguous friendship with him; Chang likes to listen to things rather than look at them.

Aided by deliriously lively cinematography by Christopher Doyle, Wong fragments his tale into sections and moments, cooking, going out for cigarettes, etc., rather than any traceable arc. There's no specific moment when a relationship begins or ends. It's one of the great gay films ever made. If only Cheung had played his character with a bit less recklessness and a bit more humanity.

DVD/Blu-Ray Details: For 2009, Kino has re-released Happy Together with a new transfer, re-mastered from a high-def source. Extras include an hour-long making-of documentary, and a new featurette with Wong at the Museum of the Moving Image. There are also trailers and a still gallery. In 2010, Kino followed up with a truly gorgeous Blu-Ray edition, with all the same extras.

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