Director: Won Kar Wai
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Chungking Express is a remarkably intricate film dealing with the themes of love, loss, and the intricacies of everyday life. As my first Wong Kar Wai film, I was impressed with Wai’s ability to combine thought and spontaneity into the composition of the entire film. The film’s format intertwined two storylines, something I found to be off-putting at first until I understood its purpose within the film.
The film opens with a narration from Cop 223, explaining how people pay little attention to the nuances of life: the people you pass on the street, etc. This narration and subsequent intercutting between two different stories begins the director’s commentary on how complex our lives actually are and how important it is to pay attention to the details. Fundamentally complicated, the story and its purpose were made more clear through the director’s camera work and other formalistic choices.
The film was shot in a handheld style, allowing for extremely interesting shot compositions and making the film itself take on a much more realistic feel – definitely one of the more noteworthy formal choices within the film. With many modern films meticulously composed, it was refreshing to see a director take such a risk to advance the film’s themes. The characters took on an authentic tone in respect to the camera work, and it definitely helped to instill the confusion inherent in the themes of love and loss.
If this is the first time you’re watching the film, don’t be afraid of a second viewing. In fact, I would almost recommend it. The characters and story are especially intricate here, and it is definitely a difficult watch if you’re not completely focused. Still, it’s a film that I expect each viewer to enjoy for a different reason, and that becomes the beauty of the film itself as well as the reason to watch it a few times.