Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Me and You, So Happy Together

Two weeks ago when a social media post marking the birth date of the actor Leslie Cheug reminded me of this Hong Kong's superstar and the inimitable legacy he left behind, the first image that came to my mind was of a beaten, and bloodied Cheung surrendering in the arms of a shocked ex lover played by the talented Tony Leung in the film Happy Together (1997).
The maverick director Wong Kar-wai made several masterpieces, and is known for his frequent collaborationwith Tony Leung, but none can deny that his original muse was Leslie Cheung. In the path breaking and celebrated 'Happy Together', both his actors, Cheung and Leung created a magic so removed from anything the world had seen, and would come to see from the director himself.
A film about two lovers, who find themselves in Argentina, in an attempt to rescue their volatile relationship, is an unlikely poignant film about romance and the ephemeral nature of love. It is a beautiful film, shot by the innovative Christopher Doyle, and directed with raw passion by Wong Kar-wai.
The on and off relationship between the two leading men form the narrative backdrop to a film that takes us across stark landscapes, both natural and manmade. From the enormous Iguazu falls to the neon lit streets of Taiwan, we even end up at the 'end of the world', literally. 
The film introduces and explores male sexuality in a tender and evocative way, an achievement very few films can claim. The film is a romance that breaks the heart of the protagonists repeatedly to make them find themselves. Yet, I find this film to be the best living testimony of the beauty and vulnerability of the most famous Asian man, Leung, whose superstardom was once succeeded only by Michael Jackson and the Beatles.
Only the genius of an auteur like Wong Kar-wai could ever manage to capture this powerhouse of an actor and give him the role that will define love, irrespective of gender, sexuality or race forever. 
Five years later Leung died when he jumped off the 24th floor of a hotel in Hong Kong, but he continues to be the muse of the world.