All the lonely people, where do they come from? All the lonely people, where do they belong? Wong Kar-wai’s frenetic tableau is a synergy of moving parts that seem to go nowhere, souls oversaturated with romantic despair devoid of faux sentimentality, trapped in the now here. As Kar-wai waxes poetic about things pathetic, he is still able to imbue the characters with hope and humor, raging against the dying of the neon lights and pale glitter, where laughter subsumes pathos.
Disenchanted spirits haunting the garden of Earthly delights, close but so far away from each other, a gangster shoots his way to redemption and a mute mimes his way to salvation. Wong Chi-min is a contract killer whose ethereal partner haunts the periphery of his life, a beautifully cool and sinister woman who hides in plain site behind dark sunglasses, her long thick hair often obscuring her face. They are connected by violence and duty, like a pistol and it's hollow point ammunition: neither complete without the other. It's no coincidence that she remains nameless, an avatar for the restless and reckless despair coursing through the veins of a lonely woman, like neon gas through a white hot placard.
He Zhiwu manifests in a parallel story, a young man who is mute because of childhood trauma with spoiled pineapples, and searches for a human touch in a world of clenched fists. He breaks into shops after hours and forces random people to purchase his wares, forcing customers to eat ice cream all night. Disenfranchised from others, he becomes fascinated with a manic girl who lives her life through a phone, her heartbeat a shrill and tenuous vibrato that echoes from a tiny earpiece. These and many other characters bounce around and collide in a world of millions of people, creating a brief single spark that soon fades away, sometimes immeasurable and insubstantial.
Wong Kar-wai creates frisson by juxtaposing these beautiful images upon a soulful soundtrack, then cuts with a frantic energy that leaves the viewer breathless and exhausted. To accentuate the character’s isolation, sex is shown only in two masturbatory scenes, denuding this sensual exertion to a physical desertion devoid of reciprocation. As they struggle to find love it sometimes shows up in the strangest places, discovered when least expected. A simple gesture attains the sublime.
Final Grade: (B+)