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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy together-Unhappy together?
Won kar wai's films seem to become more pessimistic and heartfelt the longer he goes on. Fortunately for us viewers this means that they also become more beautiful and heartbreakingly moving than ever. The film deals with the destructive relationship between two gay lovers (Tony Leung and Leslie Chung) as they try to keep alive their ailing love for each other by...
Published on 4 Nov 2003 by terry caulfield

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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Location and cinematography before plot and story.
I finally saw this film a few months ago when a friend ordered it, to him it's a complete foreign language film. Coming from the same city (Hong Kong) as the actors and director, my friend was interested to hear what I have to say about this film and suggested that I watch it with him. I told him that the film generally felt like it was done by somebody with the intention...
Published 11 months ago by East End James


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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy together-Unhappy together?, 4 Nov 2003
This review is from: Happy Together [1997] [DVD] (DVD)
Won kar wai's films seem to become more pessimistic and heartfelt the longer he goes on. Fortunately for us viewers this means that they also become more beautiful and heartbreakingly moving than ever. The film deals with the destructive relationship between two gay lovers (Tony Leung and Leslie Chung) as they try to keep alive their ailing love for each other by travelling to Beunos Aires to "start again", but only leads to their gradual but inevitable parting. With excellent performances from the two leads and stunning photography from Christopher Doyle, this is a must see for all Won Kar Wai fans, and in fact, for anyone with an appreciation of world cinema. Higly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zero Plot but who cares when the acting is this good!, 4 July 2007
By 
This review is from: Happy Together [1997] [DVD] (DVD)
I'm not sure why I enjoyed this film. There is no plot to speak of, it focuses on a couple from Hong Kong who are in Argentina and the breakdown of their relationship. That said, anyone who has ever been in a relationship (gay or otherwise) will empathise completely with this film.

Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung manage to portray one of the most realistic relationships ever committed to celluloid. The acting is so natural, that at times I forgot I was watching a film, I was so immersed in their performances.

This is the first Wong Kar Wai film I have ever saw and I found the directing style a bit jarring at first but soon found that it fit in with the story excellently.

I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who loves proper cinema.
Give it a go, you won't be disappointed.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wong Kar-Wai's Finest Hour, 1 April 2004
By 
M. Lyon (Minneapolis, MN) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
A bold statement, but as a fan, student and professor of Asian film for more than a decade, I can say without reservation that this is amongst the finest films I have ever seen. The relationship between Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung is universal - regardless of age, race or sexual orientation, you will find yourself drawn to these stunning characters, which are without equivocation the finest roles played in the lengthy careers of these two Hong Kong superstars. I rarely gush over a movie so, but Happy Together deserves every word of praise and more. Deeply moving and superbly acted, it features Kar-Wai's most clever metaphorical writing and directing, and it is surely Christopher Doyle's finest hour.
Though not the hit in Europe or the US that it could have been with the proper marketing and distribution (that was left for In The Mood For Love, an equally beautiful if less heartstopping feature), this film is a true classic and deserves a shot from all who love the cinema.
Some may find it lacking, but I cannot picture a finer film - and since it is my profession to picture exactly that, I hope it is high praise indeed.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest depiction of two gay, Cantonese men, 9 May 2005
This review is from: Happy Together [1997] [DVD] (DVD)
I heard about this film from somewhere which I cannot remember for the life of me, but I think I saw the trailer and then was immediately drawn into the film.
The cinematography creates an atmosphere of what the director thought Argentina was like. It is not wonderfully glossed-over with sparkling shots of the two men, quite the opposite - it shows them at their worst when they are with each other but it is through this, that I think, the two men come out at their best because this is the side of people we never see, and the fact it's coming out to both of them shows they have reached a very real level of intimacy.
The main character 'fei' or 'yieu fei' is probably the more dominant character although he does end up indulging the other character 'wing' or 'bo wing' - who keeps leaving him and reappearing again throughout the film. From boredom to despair, to displeasure to illness (or injury) 'bo wing' always comes to 'yieu fei' and 'yieu fei' always takes him back. No matter how hard he knows it'll be when 'bo wing' will eventually leave, or how hard he has to work to keep him happy - he does it anyway. It is not in this that I think the greatest part of the film lies.
Their dialogue which ultimately define the dynamics of their relationship is where I think the core of the magic of the film happens. In my opinion, being born from a half-Cantonese/Szechuanese background in Scotland I understand genuine Cantonese dialogue, culture and behaviour. This film provided just that, only between two gay men. I would not say that the dynamics were such as that between a man and a woman, but there is definitely a sense of one having power over the other. Although ironically, Bo Wing seems to have the most power has he's the one who seems to have the right to leave and come back whenever he wants. The dialogue is extremely, even overly, flip by British standards and everything they say to each other is extremely heavy-handed. They never say anything directly but prefer to show their feelings through what they're not saying and actions highlighted by the film. e.g. Bo Wing staring at Yieu Fei when he's sleeping.
I am not saying that Cantonese people have a problem showing their feelings, but that this is the genuine way in which they share intimacy; in showing each other their best and worst parts without any social discipline to follow. It's hard to describe but even if you don't understand Cantonese you'll follow what I'm saying once you see the film.
Although the bulk of the film was amazing in my opinion, with the complementary music at the background which seems to match the unhappy background exactly - either ironically or exactly, and also the great cinematography from the quotidian scenes of everyday life in Argentina to quotidian scenes of 'Yieu Fei' and 'Bo Wing' - I wasn't that happy with the ending.
It felt a little contrived as almost all arthouse movies end unhappily and this just felt like it was following the norm. However it did make sense as 'Yieu Fei' always talks about going back, and the audience does understand why from the treatment he receives. Maybe I just wished for a happy ending as they seemed to share real intimacy you just don't find in most places these days.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant till the last..., 18 May 2007
By 
Jason Tsang "RacingGreen" (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Happy Together [1997] [DVD] (DVD)
I have been a fan of Wong Kar-Wai movies for a while and I am also a fan of the two actors who play the main characters. It is easy to dismiss this as a Chinese attempt to make a gay movie, but it is not as simple as that and with Wong Kar-Wai, it is never a simple story. The story is not about glamour and the characters are two regular guys from HK. What is special about this movie, isn't the director's choice to make a gay movie, but a movie where two people struggle to get what they want in a relationship. One is openly promiscuous the other is a stable kind of guy. The former is selfish and only wants the latter when he has run out of other choices. The latter struggles to find comfort in that relationship and in the end he finds happiness leaving the relationship altogether.

The movie is quite realistic and deals with the issues within relationships. Choices are hard, but you have to make them. Love is an ideal, but what will you do and sacrifice to remain in love and at what cost? There are a lot of unhappy relationships out there. Sometimes it is a matter if circumstances, but at the end of the day, you have to help yourself. These problems don't just exist in gay relationships, but also those of straight people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Little Classic, 13 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Happy Together [1997] [DVD] (DVD)
A beautifully paced film with an excellent soundtrack. All the actors are excellent, as is the story and editing. A worthy addition to anyone's collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not his best but worth watching, 1 Aug 2010
By 
This review is from: Happy Together [1997] [DVD] (DVD)
Upon first watching "Happy Together" I was a little disappointed, particularly as I had watched In The Mood For Love [2000] [DVD] previously and was very impressed with it right off the bat. However, on my second viewing I really changed my mind. The fact that "Happy Together" is a visually stunning film is obvious within the first twenty minutes, so no change of mind was necessary on that front. My initial problem was a feeling that style won out over substance and plot, however, after re-watching the film I had a change of heart and undoubtedly appreciated the film more the second time round. The performances are all very good and the film certainly doesn't pull any punches. I might not recommend it as a starting point to someone, as of yet, unfamiliar with Kar-Wai, perhaps favouring "In The Mood For Love" or Chungking Express [1995] [DVD] instead. Nevertheless, I think this film is a really worthwhile and rewarding experience, even if, like me, it might take a couple of viewings to fully appreciate it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Has nobody else seen this film?!, 2 Feb 2009
This review is from: Happy Together [1997] [DVD] (DVD)
I wanted to review this film because I noticed it has not been reviewed before. I didn't really know what to expect of this film, but bought it as it was listed in the 1001 Films To See Before You Die list. I can honestly say I really enjoyed it, although it can be a bit hard to follow the subtitles at times I was still able to fully engage with the story, which is heart-warming and gritty. Although sombre in parts, there are many little funny quips in the film that make it really memorable, the scene where the two men are sharing the cramped apartment together is really funny as well as sad. An exquisite example of eastern cinema which is often overlooked. Great addition to any collection, worth 10.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 14 Oct 2005
By 
Wilhelm Snyman "Wilhelm Snyman" (Cape Town, W Cape South Africa) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Happy Together [1997] [DVD] (DVD)
One of the most evocative and realistic portrayals of a relationship, and Galasso's soundtrack is so suited to the mood of this film. One of those films, which if it had not been made would have left the word a poorer place.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Let’s Start Over, 1 July 2014
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Happy Together [1997] [DVD] (DVD)
With this 1997 work Hong-Kong Chinese film-maker Wong Kar-Wai again brings his distinctive 'modernist’ style to a bitter-sweet human relationship – this time, that of gay 'couple’ Tony Leung’s reserved Lai Yiu-fai and Leslie Cheung’s impetuous Ho Po-wing and, to further the director’s 'challenge’, transports us from his bustling home town city to that of Latin America – Buenos Aires, to be precise. Of course, if it’s strong, dramatic linear narrative you’re after, then you’re probably looking in the wrong place as Wong once again gives us a slow-moving, episodic tour of human emotions, frailties, memories and longing, all wrapped up in the man’s stunning visual style (courtesy again here of cinematographer Christopher Doyle).

Indeed, it is difficult to imagine anything with Wong’s two male leads being anything other than engaging, and the pair’s mercurial relationship (for me, at least) evokes increasing empathy as they bicker, fight, make love, arouse jealousy and struggle to thrive apart – in much the same way the film-maker did for the protagonists in his two masterpieces, Chungking Express and In The Mood For Love. And, although the film is largely a 'two-hander’ between Messrs. Leung and Cheung, Wong also gives us Chen Chang’s innocently curious fellow kitchen-worker, Chang, whose scenes with Leung’s Lai are some of the film’s highlights, being filled (in typical Wong fashion) with unspoken emotion and longing.

Looks-wise, I would say that Happy Together is as good as anything Wong has done – with the director’s visual sense (and Doyle’s camerawork) constantly surprising and impressing, whether it be via the trademark fast-edits and cutting, the lingering shots of 'local scenery’ (including those of the Iguazu waterfalls, whose shared memory is also evoked via Lai and Ho’s lamp) or simply by these film-makers’ almost unique sense of how to fill the frame. The film’s visual palette is further enhanced by the alternating use of colour and black-and-white (the latter approach repeatedly evoking film-noir). Stunning sequences (for me) include that of Lai and Ho dancing in a run-down kitchen, Lai’s imaginary depiction of Hong-Kong 'upside-down’ (it being ‘opposite’ Buenos Aires on the globe), the helicopter shot of Chang at a lighthouse at The End Of The World and the closing sequence of the Taipei 'bullet train’ (to Danny Chung’s cover of the eponymous Turtles song).

I would not put Happy Together quite on a par with Chungking Express or In The Mood For Love but it is nevertheless another thoughtful, stylish and emotionally engaging piece of work from one of the most innovative film-makers of the last couple of decades.

Also, on the 2009 Artificial Eye DVD there is a fascinating documentary on the making of the film (showing how Wong shot much material, and narrative, that didn’t make it to the final cut).
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Happy Together [Blu-ray] [1997] [US Import]
Happy Together [Blu-ray] [1997] [US Import] by Wong Kar-Wai (Blu-ray - 2010)
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