Saturday, October 4, 2008

Review: Days of Being Wild

Days of Being Wild (1990, Wong Kar Wai)

This movie has a very appropriate title. The story's central character (there are others who earn their own compelling plotlines however) is a young, twenty something chap (Leslie Cheung) who doesn't have a job, alienates his adoptive mother and is a bit of a skirt chaser. Needless to say, with an attitude like that, the girls he meets are often left with a bruised heart.

Maggie Cheung is the first girl we meet and once she's brutally dumped, Carina Lau is Leslie Cheung's next target. What's interesting is how Wong plays with his themes differently. several of his movies explore the sticky concept of love, but Days of Being Wild seems to take that and run with it a bit differently. As the plot moves along, the chain of people who are hurt, in one way or another, but Cheung's wild and careless behavior begins to take a serious toll. Everyone around at last has a job, certain commitments to attend to and can hence be considered rather stable people, but their emotional foundations all eventually get trounced. It's quite devastating to contemplate but fascinating to watch.

It's also quite compelling to see how Wong always the most out of the actors he works with. Everyone here, espeically the two leads, Leslie Cheung to Maggie Cheung, invest a lot into their characters and therefore make them three dimensional. There's a believability about the characters that really sucks the viewer into the movie.
As is normally the case in a Wong Kar Wai film, the soundtrack is a peculiar choice. A tantalizing samba-like music is played at several moments during the narrative, but somehow doesn't quite feel out of place. It works well with Leslie's brash character, who is enganged in an emotionally dangerous dance with himself and those around him.
I acknowledge that Wong has made several strong movies, but I think Days of Being Wild really has something special about it.

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