Happy Together (1997)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Gay & Lesbian Films, Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Oct 10, 1997 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - Hong Kong   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Jonathan Crow

Wong Kar-wai at his most lyrical and mannered, Happy Together is a voluptuously photographed meditation on love and loneliness. Employing the same off-the-cuff direction and dazzling visual style of his landmark Chungking Express (thanks to ace cinematographer Christopher Doyle), Wong gives Happy Together a similarly loose structure, though it is a darker, more melancholy film. Like characters in a Samuel Beckett play, the Hong Kongese gay couple stranded far from their native land and at the end of their rope recognizes the destructive, ultimately doomed nature of their relationship, but they cannot quite bring themselves to break their bonds. Happy Together gained notoriety for its frank portrayal of homosexuality, resulting in its getting banned in Singapore, among other places. Though this long taboo subject was slowly being broached by such art house directors as Tsai Ming-liang and Stanley Kwan, few films dealt with Chinese male sexuality as directly (and as graphically) as Wong did here. Both male leads, Leslie Cheung and the sad-eyed Tony Leung Chiu Wai, give brilliant, fearless performances. Happy Together is an utterly romantic, deeply moving film that continues to haunt the viewer long after the credits have rolled.