This is an earlier film from Wong Kar-Wai that is now being released in America after the more or less underground success in Occident of “ChungKing Express”, released by Tarantino’s company, and “Happy Together”, which won the Best Direction award at Cannes in 97. Seeing a third film from the Hong Kong filmmaker confirms what I was beginning to understand about his work. Kar-Wai is obviously a true artist, more preoccupied with style than with plot. You could say that his films are about the act of making movies itself. His pictures are highly ecclectic melting pots, packed with experimentation, confused thoughts and ideas. What you get is films that are both distabilising and fascinating. Kar-Wai evidently loves to play with images, blending shots in color and in black&white, film and video, acceleration and slow-motion. He cuts from slightly off-focus, frenetic gunfights to long scenes showing a character barely doing anything, while we hear the same pop songs over and over. And then there’s the narration, sometimes insightful but more often just evasive and experimental.
A film like “Fallen Angels” weaves characters and stories so unusually that you can barely take out a plot from it. You got this melancoly hitman who says he’s too lazy to take a decision, so he’s “managed” by his partner, a girl who’s obssessed with him. She searches his trash, hangs in his favorite bar where she sits in his usual chair, cries and masturbates in her bed… But he’s thinking of leaving the business, and he eventually moves in with a moody, dyed hair chick he meets in a McDonald’s. Then there’s this dude, mute ever since he ate outdated canned pineapple as a kid, who reopens stores closed for the night to make a little money. He lives with his dad, a cook who he likes to videotape. He sometimes meet a girl at night, who’s constantly having tantrums while talking on the phone. He might be in love with her.
Kar-Wai never really stops to explain what’s the purpose of the film. But that’s beside the point. The pleasure of the film lies in every of the countless cinematic novelties and semi-profound statements that fill it, not in the structure that they form. “Fallen Angels” is not for all tastes, but it’s surely a very interesting exercise in style for anyone who loves challenging cinema.