Chungking Express (Wong, 1994)

Watching Chungking Express some odd years ago I remember dismissing it as overrated, overdone, and overstuffed with style, second-rate “mainstream” compared to masterpieces In the Mood For Love and Happy Together. A second glance at Wong’s beautiful and mesmerizing duo of intersecting love stories (on Criterion’s Blu ray no less) definitely adds perspective and clarity toward the importance of movement in the film, and not only the kinetic slow motion either.

Chungking Express contains a magnitude of grace within its twisting mise-en-scene, maybe as much as In the Mood For Love, a surprising fact considering this film seems to be so popular for its hyper-cool aesthetic. Aside from the overwhelming visuals, Wong injects silence into the moments of exchange between his pairs, their eyes locked together by fate, battling every inclination to reveal the hopeless romantic inside.

Wong obviously went back to the Chungking Express well during his ending for My Blueberry Nights, another destiny-infused meeting at a food establishment that elaborates on the hidden pleasures within the frame. However, Chungking Express feels more original today for these universal reasons, a rambling quest to allure, reveal, and hypnotize the one that got away before time runs out.

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