Style oozing from virtually every frame, this bittersweet love story from terminally chic Hong Kong auteur du jour Wong Kar-wai may be a little too cool for its own good. Lai (Tony Leung) and his lover Ho (Leslie Cheung) try to save their
foundering relationship by making a fresh start in Argentina. But after a roadside spat, Ho takes off in a huff and Lai gets a job at a Buenos Aires tango bar. Ho shows up regularly, draped on the arms of various johns, until the night he arrives, badly beaten, at Lai's squalid flat. Lai nurses Ho
back to health, but steals his passport -- just in case. Another fresh start, or love's slow death? This is a far more intimate film than Wong's CHUNGKING EXPRESS, whose flashy, music-video pizzazz is perfectly suited to its theme of drive-by love in a fast-paced consumer culture. Once again
working with cinematographer Christopher Doyle, Wong pulls out all the stops: Grainy B&W alternates with richly saturated color, and Doyle employs a bewildering array of film speeds, exposures and shots. The closely observed nuances of Lai and Ho's crumbling relationship are often overwhelmed by
funky style, but somewhere under all the razzle-dazzle a melancholy tale of loneliness and love's labors lost quietly unfolds. The film is full of perfect moments -- a tender slow-dance in an empty kitchen; a sad goodbye punctuated by a beautifully timed freeze-frame -- but to truly see them you
have to close your eyes to the constant visual noise.
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