I have written on here previously of my love of In the Mood for Love. It is by far my favorite film of all time and a film that I annoy my boyfriend by watching it on repeat. Every time I watch it, I am blown away by the pure mastery of the film. The acting, the sound, the cinematography and the story always stirs something inside me. In fact I watch this film most often after I have given up on finding any more interesting films. It makes me believe that cinema is capable of being great, touching on something universal and human and real.
But everyone has a starting point and In the Mood for Love was not Wong Kar Wai’s first film. In fact neither is the film I am reviewing. But it is the first film that reveals the mastery he will later develop completely not only in In the Mood for Love, but also Chungking Express and Happy Together. The exotic music cues, the graphic cinematography, the understated performances and the perpetual longing that permeates each film afterward starts in this film. The film is about a man who cares nothing for the women he insnares. He is a shallow man but a troubled man. Who he thought was his mother reveals that he is adopted but will not tell him where the mother is and who she is. She holds things over him and has trouble letting him go. This translates into his need to manipulate and abuse the women who come to love him. One woman (The amazing Maggie Cheung) is a quiet young woman who works a concession stand. He seduces her by coming at the exact same minute everyday and telling her that she will be in his dreams. She falls hard for him but he abruptly ends the relationship by asking her why she would want to tell her father about their non-existent relationship. He treats the second woman the exact opposite. Instead of quietly coming every day, he gives her a pair of earrings and asks what she would do for them then he leaves her outside in the pouring rain while he stays dry. He orders her around and abruptly leaves her one day without ever saying goodbye. He is for lack of a better word an a hole, but that does not matter to Wong Kar Wai. What matters is his inner thoughts and emotions revealed in long takes and many cigarettes. He doesn’t care who he hurts, but it is only because he was hurt the day he was born by his mother. A sad fate encounters him as he makes his way to find out what his real mother looks like.
If you put Days of Being Wild next to In the Mood for Love, you will notice so many similarities. This is mainly because the two films share the same director of photography. Christopher Doyle is a genius when it comes to expressing emotions using only vivid, rich colors. He creates an atmosphere that pulls you in and wraps you up in the actions and feelings of these very sensitive characters. In fact each element of the film serves to enhance each emotion, action and feeling that the characters have. The cha-cha music enhances one character’s want to be as much of a lady-killer as his friend is. The rain enhances another character’s loneliness. In Wong Kar Wai’s films every element has its part to play. He thinks about every factor involved and only makes decisions based on what is best for his characters. This is what makes Wong Kar Wai a great director. This is what makes Days of Being Wild a great film.