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3/10/11

CHUNGKING EXPRESS - REVIEW


Wong Kar Wai's eclectic style is at its sharpest here in this beautifully crafted, quirky, hypnotic, heartbreaking little story of loneliness in Hong Kong. Two different but thematically close stories are told, one with Tony Leung and Faye Wong, the other with Takeshi Kaneshiro and Brigitte Lin. Both stories follow lost souls trying to beat their loneliness and let go of the past but the dynamic of each tale is very different.

The first story is a bit darker with Brigitte Lin's blonde "femme fatale" being involved in drug smuggling, kidnapping and...murder. It's more of a thriller, really. The second part is much lighter and really sticks to its French New Wave-style rom-com feel.

The cast is one of the best you'll find in any Hong Kong film: Lin displays a cold, piercing exterior but suggests she's more sensitive than she lets on. Kaneshiro is the heartbroken, kinda naive, nice guy you find in a lot of Wong Kar Wai films (see Tony Leung in Happy Together): he's sweet and definitely a huge contrast to Lin's character.

Tony Leung is a bit more restrained here but still effective, especially when poetically anthropomorphizing his various household items and speaking to them. It is Faye Wong, though, in her first starring role, who steals her show with her volatile, head-banging, cheeky, California Dreamin' cashier. Her energy and adorable quirkiness perfectly matching Leung's. Unfortunately neither character really finds out how perfect they are for each other...or do they? Yeah, like I'm gonna spoil it for you.

One of my favourites and one of Wong Kar Wai's freshest and greatest achievements. A must-see.

Oh and expect to love (or hate?) The Mamas and Papas really, really soon.

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