This blog represents the longest stretch of time of far between watching a movie and writing my blog on it. I got sick a couple of weeks ago and lost my momentum, and, well, you know how it goes. So forgive me: My recollection may be a bit fuzzy. Anyway.
Wong Kar-wai’s “Chungking Express” is made up of two loosely interconnected stories, each about a lovesick Hong Kong cop.
In the first, He Qiwu (Takeshi Kaneshiro), recently dumped by his girlfriend May, allows himself a month — until his birthday on May 1 — before moving on. To mark the passage of time, he buys a can of pineapples every day with that expiration date. Meanwhile, an unnamed woman (Brigitte Lin) navigates the aftermath of a drug-smuggling operation gone wrong. On the evening of May 1, she and He Qiwu briefly connect in a bar.
In the second story, Cop 663, whose flight attendant girlfriend just left him, floats through his days in a haze of apathy and depression. Faye (Faye Wong), a young woman who works at his regular lunch spot — and maybe the first modern “manic pixie dream girl” — becomes quietly obsessed with him. She steals the keys to his apartment when the flight attendant leaves them at the restaurant with a Dear John letter, and starts spending her days at 663’s place while he works. Faye rearranges his stuff, adds new fish to his aquarium, and generally makes herself at home. One day, home early, he catches her trying to come in and romance blossoms.
I really loved “Chungking Express.” It’s playful and funny and smart without being at all pretentious. Wong uses the camera to cleverly underscore the themes of urban alienation and the intersections/divergences between physical proximity and emotional intimacy.
One shot in particular stands out to me. Faye is in 663’s apartment with him for the first time (after countless solo trips). He looks over her as she naps on the couch. Framed by a mirror, 663 appears behind Faye even as he’s right in front of her. He doesn’t know what she does — about her feeling toward him or her habit of visiting his apartment while he’s out — undermining their closeness. But while their perspectives may differ, they are bound by a shared desire to be together.
Great film. I’m looking forward to checking out more of Wong’s stuff — including “In the Mood For Love,” which appears further down the BFI list.