Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Days of Being Wild

Ah fei zing zyun; drama / romance, Hong Kong / China, 1990; D: Wong Kar-wai, S: Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Carina Lau, Andy Lau, Rebecca Pan, Jacky Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu-wai

Hong Kong. A lad, Yuddy, seduces Li-zhen, a saleswoman working at the sports arena desk, and they start a relationship. However, Yuddy gets bored and disappears from her life without any explanation. Walking alone at night, Li-zhen is comforted by a police patrol man, Tide, but refuses to end up with him. Yuddy manages that another woman falls for him, dancer Mimi, but then dumps her as well. An angry Mimi confronts Li-zhen, but the latter tells her that Yuddy just dumps all the women like that. Yuddy confronts his adoptive mother and leaves for Philippines in order to find his biological mother. He is robbed by a girl but meets and befriends Tide, who became a sailor. Yuddy ends up in a fight in a hotel. While traveling in a train with Tide, one of the criminals tracks down Yuddy and shoots him in the wagon.

"Days of Being Wild" pretty much sums up all the frustrating aspects about director Wong Kar-wai: overwhelming aesthetics, underwhelming writing. While the cinematography is exquisite, filled with several wonderful, lush, beautiful shots and images, his storyline is strangely thin, with several 'empty walks', especially in the banal writing of dialogues, since some of the lines almost sound as if they came from a soap opera ("I told you not to love me! You got his car, and now you want even me!"). The final 20 minutes, where the main protagonist, Yuddy, suddenly decides to go to Philippines to search for his biological mother, are misguided and lead nowhere. Still, even in this 'raw' approach, Kar-wai has moments of magic, featuring nostalgia and a humanistic sympathy for his imperfect characters, especially in the puzzling protagonist who is a restless and aimless individual, a man who finds love (with two women), but leaves them because he hasn't found happiness with them, so he goes to search for love for his biological mother in the (illusory) search for some comfort, some peace of mind.

The most was achieved out of excellent actors: as great as Maggie Cheung is, she is overshadowed by the high calibre, genuine and irresistible performance by the fantastic Carina Lau as dancer Mimi, whose character is a joy to watch. One of the most charming sequences is the one where Yuddy returns to his apartment, angry that Mimi has not cleaned the floor. Mimi meets him sitting on a chair in a fancy, short dress, by saying: "Am I pretty?" - "Did you wipe the floor?" - "I did! It's just dry because of the heat. Don't believe me? Do you want me to swear?" - "Swear by cursing yourself!" - "I won't do that! OK, I'll clean it when I go out, alright?!" Another interesting leitmotiv is the one of time (in the opening, Yuddy tells Li-zhen that he will always remember that one minute before 3 PM, on 16 April 1 9 6 0, because he spent it with her) and the search for some permanent value in life. As cryptic and peculiar this movie is, and its strange directions, it is difficult not to be just a little bit enchanted with it in the opening encounter in which Yuddy tells Li-zhen that she will dream of him tonight, and the next morning, he shows up to spot her all tired, leading to a magical dialogue ("I haven't dreamt of you last night." - "That's because you haven't slept at all. But you see me now, anyway").


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