Happy Together (1997)

happy together poster 1997 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visual: 8/10

Good cast

The story intentionally drags which isn't for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Happy Together

Studio:  Block 2 Pictures/Jet Tone Production/Prenom H Co. Ltd.

Genre(s):  Romance/Drama

Release Date(s):  May 17, 1997 (Cannes)/May 30, 1997 (Hong Kong)/October 10, 1997 (New York Film Festival)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

happy together tony leung

I can’t quit you

“Let’s start over.” Ho Po-Wing (Leslie Cheung) and Lai You-Fai (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) are turbulent lovers who have left Hong Kong and landed in Argentina.  Breaking up, Fai and Po-Wing find their off-and-on relationship rekindle over and over again as they doubt and question each other’s motivations and indiscretions.  As they grow apart and together over again, the unbreakable link could drag them down, but can they ever be happy together?

Written, directed, and produced by Wong Kar-wai, Happy Together (春光乍洩 or Chun gwong cha sit aka Spring at First Glace) is a romantic drama.  The film received positive reviews and some censorship due to the LGBTQ themes.  Following Wong Kar-wai’s Fallen Angels in 1995, the Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film as part of the World of Wong Kar Wai collection.

I dove into Wong Kar Wai without much knowledge of his films besides In the Mood for LoveHappy Together does have the strange feel of In the Mood for Love…it is desperate, sad, and at the same time more romantic than movies about couples that work.

happy together iguazu falls

The Iguazu Falls are calling

The film is about a toxic relationship.  They seem to click sexually, but for a lot of the movie, it is a power struggle…and all is “equal” again when Ho Po-Wing wants to “start over”.  While it seems like it is pretty one directional with Ho Po-Wing weaseling his way back into Lai You-Fai’s life over and over again, it does start to balance out a bit…and a peace is met between the two.  The romance is over, but both seem to still be longing…and it could go on-and-on.

The actors are both strong.  Tony Leung work is prolific and has continuously proven himself while doing roles like this which are more challenging and varied.  Leslie Cheung is intentionally less likeable, but he also feels like he’s the more impulsive and living loud of the two (and it is unfortunate that the singer-actor died by suicide in 2003. I feel the Chang character played by Chen Chang is a bit shoehorned into the movie (it was created to fill filming time during Leslie Cheung’s concert tour) and could have been better incorporated.

happy together leslie cheung

Will he reach the lighthouse?

The movie looks good.  It jumps back and forth between black-and-white and color and enjoys playing with speed and slow motion.  The film is shot in Argentina and utilizes the Iguazu Falls which factor into the story in almost a dream destination…like Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse (which ironically is Leslie Cheung’s character’s goal destination).

Happy Together isn’t a movie for everyone like most of Wong Kar-wai’s movie.  They aren’t necessarily extremely story driven and feel more like modern versions of Ingmar Bergman’s flowing character driven films.  Happy Together is more about emotions, feelings, and connections than story…and that is fine.  Wong Kar-Wai followed Happy Together with In the Mood for Love in 2000.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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