Keynote: Chungking Express / The Dissolve
As a swift introduction, Chungking Express's plot can be summarized Neither relationship between the pairs end up “working out,” but each. Wong Kar-Wai's Chungking Express is made up of two, consecutive who is trying to come terms with his break-up with his girlfriend, May. Chungking Express explores the daily routines that inhabitants of urban and the film's ending leaves the future of their relationship uncertain.
Eating all the pineapples is therapeutic for him; with each can, he grows to accept the outcome even more. The pineapples were a physical reminder of the desire that things between Qi-Wu and May would return to what they once were, all stacked up and kept tidily in hopes that his girlfriend would return to him.
However, as the final day draws to a close, he physically shows his acceptance of the inevitable by consuming the pineapples and physically absorbing his dashed dreams as a learning experience. As he consumes the last of the cans, Qi-Wu even begins seasoning them with odd condiments such as pepper and hot sauce, as if mocking his own, somewhat naive belief that hoarding cans of pineapple would allow May to return to him.
By eating the pineapples and accepting the end of his relationship, Qi-Wu opens up to the possibility of finding someone knew, which helps initiate a new relationship with the female lead of this story.
Thus, one can assume that the pineapples, then, represent a passage of time and deadlines, which held extreme significance for Hong Kong citizens during this time within the context of the handover of Hong Kong to China from the United Kingdom. When faced with the boxes of stored cigarettes, Po Wing throws a tantrum and flings the boxes to the floor.
When confronted, Yiu Fai denies keeping his passport until it becomes undeniable and finally defiantly tells Po Wing that he will not be returning the passport to him.
This is in retaliation to the multiple let downs and abuses that Po Wing has dealt him in the relationship, using him for money, sex, care, companionship.
The result is an impasse between them in which the relationship turns bitter and cold. Yiu Fai reflects that the happiest days were when Po Wing was still recovering and under his care, too weak to be promiscuous.
There is a scene of him tenderly stroking Po Wing while he is sleeping, showing that, despite being abused on multiple levels, he still cares for Po Wing. The result is a deep unhappiness in Yiu Fai. He cares for Po Wing, but cannot accept the constant ill-treatment, abuse, and being taken for granted. He exhausts himself in giving and caring for Po Wing, who is ungrateful and uses him only for sex and when he needs money and care.
He goes drinking with the colleague who he develops a close friendship with, who Vol. Yiu Fai is eventually heard sobbing deep sobs of unhappiness, because he has failed to find fulfilment in a relationship.
The destructive impulses in the relationship have left him lonelier than ever, and in one scene he succumbs to having sex with a stranger and realizes he is no different from Po Wing, because at the heart of the matter lonely people are all the same.
One possible reason the relationship breaks down is because there are no clearly defined gender boundaries between the two. Indeed Po Wing is the more passive of the two, but he is not the more nurturing or caring of the two, this would be Yiu Fai.
Po Wing is also the more sexually aggressive of the two even though he is supposed to be a passive, he is constantly making sexual advances at Yiu Fai while Yiu Fai spurns them like a woman.
So in many ways, though Po Wing is the ostensible female and passive in the relationship, he also possesses masculine traits. So there is no clearly defined male and female dichotomy or complementarity between the two.
The key feature of the relationship is its abusive nature. Po Wing plays mind games with Liu Fai, and seeks to isolate him from other lovers by getting possessive even though he takes liberties to be promiscuous himself. He also controls Yiu Fai by ordering him to do all the cooking and household chores, to bathe and feed him, while he passively lives off Yiu Fai, and tries to use him sexually by making advances at him whenever he is lustful or lonely.
Yiu Fai in return receives virtually nothing from Po Wing and does not benefit from the relationship at all, indeed it causes him much aggravation and harm instead. He has many outbursts of anger at Po Wing for taking him for granted and using and manipulating him. Also key in the relationship is its degenerative nature. It is a relationship heavily based on need. Po Wing approaches Yiu Fai only when he needs him for money, care and sex. Yiu Fai in return cares for Po Wing, but grudgingly as he is often bitter and hostile to him for manipulating and using him so heavily.
Po Wing uses and abandons Yiu Fai repeatedly and exhausts him of all his emotions and resources. The result is that Yiu Fai, shell-shocked and emotionally battered, hates Po Wing and will not return his passport.
The so-called love between the two men degenerates into mutual hostility, violence and ill-will towards each other. The film is ironically named Happy Together when both partners bring each other more misery and suffering than genuine companionship. They are constantly flinging things at each other, accusing each other, acting violently towards each other, rarely bringing each other any fulfilment.
Indeed it is a wonder Yiu Fai maintains any feelings of affections towards Po Wing given that he is so heavily ill-treated. It is astounding that Yiu Fai remembers the time that Po Wing was recovering the happiest moments of his relationship with him because he was able to care for him and protect him.
It is a heavily non-reciprocal relationship with all the giving and sacrifices made chiefly by Yiu Fai and Po Wing bleeding him dry. It is amazing that Yiu Fai is not relieved rather than saddened when Po Wing eventually leaves given that he has taken Vol. The hostility between the two men arises from the fact that they are trapped together in a foreign land with no money to return to Hong Kong.
Their attempt at reviving their relationship in an exotic location like Argentina fails miserably because they do not love and respect each other, perhaps because of internalized homophobia. At the heart of the relationship is thus the void of loneliness which both parties strive but fail to fill, because there is no genuine love between the two, it is one based on satisfying the fleeting moment of need and companionship.
They lack respect and goodwill for each other. They are constantly fighting because they resent being thrown together for lack of options. Yiu Fai then sums the nature of the relationship up neatly when he says all lonely people are the same. They desire companionship, but in this situation the companionship is not at all comforting because one party is heavily making use of the other and using him to satisfy all his needs and wants without giving anything in return. While Po Wing fulfils the void by taking on a string of lovers, Yiu Fai fills the void by caring for Po Wing even when he receives no regard or respect in return.
At the heart is thus the fundamental loneliness of the human condition.
We are all essentially alone, and getting a partner will alleviate the distress of loneliness momentarily but not for long because we all are different and have conflicting desires and interests. Yiu Fai makes all the sacrifices and appeasing in the relationship, but exhausts his giving of the caring to the point of resentment and hatred for Po Wing. He hates Po Wing for destroying his life so much that he refuses to return him his passport as revenge for all the pain and suffering he has caused him.
At one point he comes close to killing Po Wing for sucking him dry and manipulating him like a puppet and leaving him stranded in Argentina. A high level of pathology thus exists in the relationship. They regard each other more as enemies than lovers, and come very close to murdering each other quite a few times. Po Wing is constantly criticizing Yiu Fai for being boring and yet he does not stop making use of him sexually, emotionally and financially.
Chungking Express - Wikipedia
This is expressed in the scene in which he breaks down and expresses a deep unhappiness within him that has been brought about by the relationship. We thus see that the relationship is more based on mutual hostility and antagonism than goodwill and love for each other.
They fight with each other out of frustration that they do not manage to overcome their loneliness in the relationship in the end. The film would thus be more aptly titled Lonely Together or Miserable Together. Because they have conflicting desires and needs and one party makes all the sacrifices to the point of murderous resentment and hatred the relationship spirals destructively and inevitably towards its death.
An abusive and pathological relationship ends up with both of them bearing murderous intentions Vol. The key element of the failure of the relationship is the lack of complementarity and the monodimensional sacrifice that is demanded on the side of Yiu Fai who cares for Po Wing to the point of exhaustion only to be abandoned by him ungratefully when he recovers.
The internalized homophobia between the two individuals also translates into a lack of respect and goodwill for each other. Because society has marginalized homosexuals they are unable to love themselves and thus each other genuinely. The relationship thrives on mutual suspicion and jealousy.
The possessive nature of both individuals towards each other and suspicious nature taken towards each other indicates a lack of trust and respect. Happy Together is them not so much about the failure of homosexual love as the failure of achieving a reciprocal relationship that transcends needs, wants and petty desires and jealousies.
Indeed, the film is less about the failure of a homosexual relationship than a relationship that is based on emotional dependency and need. It is to be noted that aside from the casual flings that they have outside the relationship, both men seem to lack the company of genuine friends.
This is perhaps due to the homophobia of society, and this is a large factor that contributes to the destruction of a relationship. To be in a taboo relationship is to be in a relationship that is not visible and lacks the support networks that are available to those in heterosexual relationships.
The high level of toxicity and pathology that accompanies the relationship can be derived from the lack of social acceptance and the stigma of homosexual relationships.
Wong tells his story in parallel with that of a mysterious woman in a blonde wig Brigitte Linfor whom May 1 also has significance: Later, Chungking Express shifts focus to Cop Tony Leung Chiu-waiwhose heartbreak comes from the departure of his stewardess girlfriend Valerie Chow.
Classic 90s Movie: “Chungking Express”
Observing his situation is Faye Faye Wongan employee at the Midnight Express food stand that both cops frequent. Before long, her observation develops from passive curiosity to active, almost mad, interest.
Watching Chungking Express doubles as an example of how two different cinematographers solved the same problem of shooting a feature film quickly but beautifully, for a director who was making it up as he went along. Or almost as he went along. Wong shot Chungking Express in the middle of a production break during the protracted shooting and editing of the martial-arts epic Ashes Of Time a striking, meditative, extremely Wong-esque film that has little in common with a traditional wuxia entry.