Days of Being Wild, 1991

A handsome young man named Yuddy (Leslie Cheung) stops by a stadium concession stand to buy a soft drink. He approaches the shy, beautiful store attendant and catches her attention by correctly guessing her name as Su Lizhen (Maggie Cheung), and confidently predicts that she will see him in her dreams. One afternoon, he asks her to look at his wristwatch, and after a minute passes, explains that he will always remember the time – one minute before 3:00 PM on April 16, 1960 – because of their shared moment together. The romantic declaration intrigues Su Lizhen, and she gradually falls in love with him. However, Yuddy’s inability to commit to a relationship frustrates Su Lizhen, and, after he rejects her marriage proposal, she reluctantly leaves him. Soon, Yuddy meets a sensual, uninhibited entertainer using the stage name, Mimi (Carina Lau), who, in turn, attracts the attention of Yuddy’s childhood friend, Zeb (Jacky Cheung). One evening, a kind, well-intentioned police officer (Andy Lau) escorts Su Lizhen back to Yuddy’s apartment in order to retrieve her belongings. Su Lizhen, caught off guard by Mimi’s presence and shattered by Yuddy’s callousness, confesses her overwhelming grief to the attentive officer. After taking a long walk together, the officer leaves an open invitation for Su Lizhen to call him at a telephone booth on his patrol watch. Every evening, he momentarily pauses in front of the telephone booth, waiting for a call that never comes. And so the pattern of encounters and missed opportunities emerges in Days of Being Wild, as Yuddy’s indifference affects the lives of the people who become entangled in his aimless life.

Wong Kar-wai creates a spare and elegant film on chance, fate, and unrequited longing in Days of Being Wild. Using a meticulously crafted mise-en-scene of damp streets, soaking summer rains, green reflected city lights, and saturated blue hues of the evening sky, Wong creates a pervasive, melancholic atmosphere to reflect each characters’ wandering and sense of incompletion: Yuddy’s elusive search for his biological mother; Su Lizhen and Fung-Ying’s continued attachment to the emotionally vacuous Yuddy; the police officer’s unresolved feelings for Su Lizhen; Zeb’s devotion to Mimi. The indelible repeated image of the blue tinted landscape of the Filipino countryside from a slow moving train, accompanied by a lackadaisical, tropical melody, further reinforces Yuddy’s complacency and lack of direction. Inevitably, it is Yuddy’s own inertia that, not only leads to his own slow self-destruction, but contaminates the soul of each passing acquaintance with a sense of unrequited longing and ache of despair.

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