Academic journal article CineAction

... Simply Because You're near Me: Love, Chungking Express and in the Mood for Love

Academic journal article CineAction

... Simply Because You're near Me: Love, Chungking Express and in the Mood for Love

Article excerpt

It is a restless moment. She has kept her head lowered to
give him a chance to come closer. But he could not, for
lack of courage.

She turns and walks away.
--Opening of In the Mood For Love

And all the while it rains.

On too many days it seems as though life is comprised of picking up the pieces of things gone wrong and trying to move ahead, continuing on with hope ... I had no idea that the hopes and aspirations of people could shatter into so many pieces, all of them sharp and dangerous to handle once broken. That this whole process may never end only makes each piece that much more lacerating. All around our own bodies exists a time and place wherein individuals make promises to their selves and another about the love between them, only to experience the huge complexity and daunting aura of this love directly. The ways in which one faces this complexity often makes possible which sort of love can flourish, and/or fade away. For better or for worse our promises within love--and to it--hinge upon these moments. One reason intimacy tends to shatter so easily is because we are, many of us, afraid of that aforementioned moment during which we must face and admit the equally important strength and weakness of what it is we are feeling for another person. As such, many people are afraid of love. Afraid it might leave; afraid it might stay. Above all, though, they are afraid of themselves and the fact that access to their heart now also lies with someone else--someone who sees right through them, if they indeed love that other. This perceived vulnerability could lead the most sure-footed hero to crumble under the pressure they put upon themselves. Many individuals in this present world are immune to this malaise. They can still maintain stability while in love. Many are not so immune. As our world continues to become the place it somehow already is, this latter group grows steadily. And all the while it rains.

Yet there are so many beautiful moments left in the world, moments where the enduring strength of what we all share together shines through the physical and existential garbage which piles up in between us. The films of Hung Kong director Wong Kar-wai are quite sensitive to this tension: That the world becomes darker, faster and more confusing and at the same time precious moments abound, if one knows where to look. In Chungking Express (1994) there are quick glimpses of it: a stranger cleans off another stranger's scuffed high-heels in a hotel bathtub with his necktie.

In both Chungking Express and another of Wong's masterpieces, In the Mood For Love (2000), forlorn individuals sway gently within a teeming, flowing crowd. They have lost out on love for the moment, and the shot composition in these sequences gives the impression that the individuals are living at a different speed than the rest of the modern world, their faces of glazed infatuation somehow thrusting them into a sort of suspended animation. These people who appear 'slowed down' are in love--for better, and often for worse. Do they move at a different speed because the nuances of love fail to fit in, or keep up with the blur of the modern world? In both Chungking Express and In the Mood For Love it is as though intense feelings of love pull the films' protagonists into a complex state, one that feels neither comforting nor disastrous. Instead, it feels like both at once. This is the enigma of love; that it can take us in both divergent directions, seemingly simultaneously. Wong's characters are pulled thusly--apart, and together--precisely because they are in love, the most complex emotional state within human experience. Following from this, Wong's films are almost equally complex because they are about love. Utter despair dances with triumph, and neither seems clearly in vision until they are gone. Lovers, or lovers to be, fumble about, trying to connect with each other. 'Coincidences' are rife in Wong's work, in strange ways. …

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