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Happy Together [Blu-ray] [Import]
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The expressionistic, stylized visual brilliance (courtesy of Australian cinematographer Christopher Doyle) of Happy Together is so breathtaking and enveloping it nearly detracts from this startling, queasy, despairing glimpse at a gay relationship gone amok. Director Wong Kar-Wai (Chungking Express, Fallen Angels) won the Best Director Prize at Cannes in 1997--surprising many--but on viewing the film it's easy to see why. The subject matter may not be the easiest to swallow--any relationship on the rocks sometimes gets dirty and pathetically disturbing--but there is a universality to Happy Together that rings true and real and less like an edition of The Honeymooners than isolation tinged with the embarrassment of intimacy. Ho (Leslie Cheung) and Lai (Tony Leung) have left Hong Kong for Buenos Aires. The journey is another in Ho's attempts to "start over." But their initial optimism is short-lived, and once they become dislocated strangers in this strange land it only further thrusts the two into their already codependent, caretaking dark love affair. But like all crazy love, the trip through masochistic hell--from violence to apathy--leads to self-enlightenment, and Wong Kar-Wai's gorgeous, grasping film is true, tricky, difficult, and emotionally wrought, aided by Hong Kong superstars Cheung and Leung, who contribute greatly to creating a work that is exceptional--and lump-in-throat brutal--in image, story, and performance. --Paula Nechak --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
enjoyed it enough to be worth the time.
What struck me most vividly was the idea of just bravely taking
off to another country on little enough of a plan that running
out of money and being forced to survive like they do is even a
possibility. I don't know if that speaks more for the main
characters' love of life, or just their incompetence, but for me
it was a vividly portrayed and compelling case for the value of
the former. This might not have been a focus of the movie, and
I'm sure that for many people the grim conditions if anything
make the opposite case, but it really made me want to seize the
day, take off on a motorcycle and so on.
I think my wife was more affected by the love story. She grew up
in China with a moderately negative but mostly non-existent
awareness of homosexuality. Her reaction at the end of this
movie was that now she could much better understand the idea of
two men actually being in love with each other, just like anybody
else. I figure I got my money's worth just for that.
Now, as her husband, I do find it a little bit disturbing that
she finds such a screwed-up relationship so easy to relate to,
but it speaks well for the movie as tolerance propaganda.
The visual style didn't particularly speak to me. It was
occasionally intrusive, occasionally neat to look at, every once
in a while participated in the story-telling, and mostly I just
I spent much of the first half of the movie complaining to
myself that the director gives us no clue at all why these two
would want to be together, let alone as obsessively as they are.Read more ›
It turned out to be a big letdown -- indeed, before I checked the actual date, I thought it was an early precursor of his unique style (combined with seemingly extreme low budget).
What I could distinguish of the plot and characters was at least mildly interesting, but that's the catch, "what I could distinguish" -- the film style and (VHS) print combined to make it very hard to figure out what was happening on the screen. The subtitles were especially hard (or impossible) to read.
A lot can be blamed on the print, and I envy those reviewers who saw it in theaters, but even trying to look through that, the film seemed to have only touches of the trademark WKW style. It was interesting to see so much shot not just exterior but outdoors, under wide skies. [The WKW films I've seen were almost entirely interior, or at least enclosed (with the exception of the Cambodian scene in Mood for Love) -- even a motorcycle is ridden at night in a tunnel.] And WKW doesn't seem to do well with the wide open spaces. Maybe it is his not being on the familiar territory of Hong Kong (or Asia). But the style here did not develop the interest and momentum for me that it did in the other films mentioned.
As to the plot, it was the usual theme of obsessive love, impossible love, and sad reflection on lost possibility. Yet their story doesn't grab me the way the others' do, I think because they are brought down by their own disfunction (and such extreme, almost clownish, disfunction)with little relation to events or societal expectation. It's like watching a habitual drunk driver wrap his car around a tree.
Happy Together is not an easy film, however. It depicts a drawn out and very messy breakup of two desperately in love young men. There is the expected difficulty of it being a foreign language film and I was put off by the sometimes very poor subtitling (it shouldn't be that hard to find someone in Hong Kong who speaks good English, should it?) Besides stupid grammatical errors, the words sometimes do not seem to match the tone of voice or actions on screen, more so for Ho Po-Wing than for Fai Yui-Lai; I kept wondering what was being lost in the translation.
On many subsequent viewings I have come to appreciate the musicality of the language and it is part of my enjoyment of the film. When I replay the scenes in my mind, I hear them as well as see them -- perhaps the influence of Chang? But I am still irritated by the subtitles.
I was also put off by the intensity of Fai's anger, which it took me a long time to figure out.
Despite these difficulties, I loved the sound track and cinematography and they were enough to keep me watching while the story was leaving me cold. The opening scenes in Argentina are reminscent, for me, of Hud, a film I saw at an impressionable age, the memory of which still blows me away. But I was not really engrossed in the film until the scene of Fai with Chang's recorder at Tres Amigos.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I LOVE THIS MOVIE.
ONE OF THE BEST OF LESLIE CHEUNG, AND ONE OF THE BEST OF WONG KAI WAI.
IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHO IS LESLIE CHEUNG, GOOGLE HIM. Read more
This movie tries to present deep, complex and intriguing characters but that pretension ends up delivering a flat, tedious and emotionally empty story. Read morePublished on Feb. 11 2004 by gonn1000
This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. If I hadn't read the reviews posted here I would have had NO idea what was going on. Read morePublished on July 7 2003 by membruto
Another remarkable story by Kar-wai Wong that depicts two men on a trip to Argentina where they get stranded due to financial difficulties and their turbulent relationship. Read morePublished on Dec 13 2002 by Swederunner
I've watched this film three times now for the pure masochistic joy of it all. It's awful. Now I enjoy a good Hong Kong gay love story, but this is a bad Hong Kong gay ... Read morePublished on Aug. 31 2002 by LysKitsune
Wong Kar-Wai has abandoned the whimisical romantic trappings of his previous films (i.e. Chungking Express and Fallen Angels) and created a slower-paced, and more introspective... Read morePublished on Feb. 20 2002 by Allen Kung
Enough has been said about Wong Kar Wai's brilliant visual direction. It might be a little too much to say that he revolutionizes the state of world cinema as there is no such... Read morePublished on Nov. 13 2001 by cdswatch
The first time i saw this movie, I have to admit, I fell asleep. And the second time I saw "HAPPY TOGETHER", I fell asleep again. Read morePublished on Oct. 16 2001 by Karen Robinson