That's the closest we ever came. Just 0.1 centimeter between us.
Six hours later she fell in love with another man.
Directed by acclaimed Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai, Chungking Express is the the tale of two Hong Kong cops; specifically, their love lives. Normally this would be the pitch for a buddy cop film, 48 Hours in Asia or some other crap.
This is not the case with Chungking Express. The cops, although walking a similar beat, don't seem to know each other that well. They simply eat at the same noodle bar. The film is distinctly broken into two acts; the first follows Cop 223, who has just been dumped by his girlfriend. To get over the heartache, he calls her parents, calls old girlfriends, and buys a bunch of canned pineapple.
Of course, he falls in love again, with a woman in a blonde wig who is not exactly an upstanding member of society.... she is not the woman from the quote above... that is Faye, who works at the noodle shop. And the other man she falls in love with? Cop 663.
I'm not going to discuss their story at all. It's the purely magical half of the film, a contrast to the moodier first act. It is enough to say you won't be able to listen to "California Dreaming" ever again without thinking of the film.
Why Haven't I Seen It?
Let's see. It's a foreign film without explosions, with subtitles, and without a compelling narrative.... it made around $660,000 at the US box office, and is not something you're going to run into on cable.
The film, popular among cinephiles and with Quentin Tarantino, does not have a strong narrative plot. Things happen in the film, but they are secondary to its cinematic construction. If this isn't something that tickles your fancy, by all means, ignore this post and skip the film.
Why Should I See It?
That said, there are plenty of reasons as to why one can absolutely, positively, fall in love with Chungking Express. It is beautifully photographed; it's as if Wong and cinematographer Christopher Doyle are making love to their subjects for one hundred straight minutes.
No, not literally. But in a 'making love with the camera' sense. Wong uses slow motion like it's going out of style... and the colors... ooh the colors. Neon glows, rainy streets... And the music! The Cranberries in Cantonese, California Dreaming all over the place, the original score....
So, if you're open to non-mainstream filmmaking, not adverse to subtitles, and a fan of pretty (moving) pictures, give Chungking Express a spin. I can't promise that you won't be disappointed, but you may discover a new cinematic love....