DAYS OF BEING WILD

 (A Fei jing juen)

Directed by Wong Kar-wai. 1991.


Talking Pictures alias talkingpix.co.uk
 
 


 
 

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In Wong Kar-wai's 1991 film Days of Being Wild, Yuddy (Leslie Cheung), a charming drifter captures the attention of store attendant Su Lizhen (Maggie Cheung) by asking her to look at his watch. When she sees that it says one minute before 3:00PM on April 16, 1960, he tells her that she will never forget the moment and will dream about him that night. The next time they meet, the moment becomes two, then one hour, then weeks and months but Yuddy is like the mythical bird with no legs that just flies and flies and never lands. Abandoned by his real mother and brought up by a wealthy alcoholic courtesan (Rebecca Pan), he does not know where he came from or where he is going. He treats women with little respect, discarding them when they no longer serve his purpose. When one lover asks him if he loves her, he tells her that during his life he will be friends with many, many women but won't know whom he truly loves until the end. 

Days of Being Wild unfolds like a dream with colour filters, unusual shadows, and the sights and sounds of Hong Kong's rainy nights and sweltering summers. Based on the director's memories from his childhood and admiration for the style of Argentinean novelist Manuel Puig (Heartbreak Tango), the film is a series of episodes involving six people who touch each other's lives. After his short-lived relationship with Su, Yuddy meets a cabaret dancer who calls herself Mimi (Carina Lau) but their relationship fares no better and she is left to suffer the consequences of their breakup. Meanwhile, Su meets Tide (Andy Lau), a gentle policeman whom she is able to confide until he suddenly leaves Hong Kong to become a sailor. Each character seeks a sense of identity and fulfillment. After Rebecca tells him of her plans to move to America with her boyfriend, she finally lets him know that who and where his real mother is. After Yuddy goes to the Philippines to try to find his mother, the lives of the main protagonists come together in a powerful conclusion. 

Days of Being Wild may sound like a soap opera but the film reaches a much higher artistic level. Supported by outstanding performances by Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, and Jacky Cheung as Yuddy's only friend Zeb, it is a tone poem about longing and one's search for identity. We care about the characters even though they don't seem to care about themselves. Like many of us, they pine for the things that might have been, the word that was never said, and the love that remains elusive. A commercial failure but an artistic triumph, Days of Being Wild is a moody, atmospheric film that with its background of popular music, in this case 1950's rumbas and cha-cha's, forecasts the director's later In the Mood For Love. As a beautifully realized example of alienated people desperately seeking their place in the world, however, it stands securely on its own.
 

Howard Schumann
 
 
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