Of Wong Kar Wai’s great films, I’d make the argument that this is his most accessible. Purists will shout In the Mood for Love, but that’s a very boring movie, good as it is. Fallen Angels is just as beautiful, and adds in that Hong Kong gun opera without being as strange as As Tears Go By.
This is kind of a semi-sequel (though completely standalone) to Chungking Express, another of the director’s many highlights. Like that movie, Fallen Angels has that same super-saturated, super-colorful aesthetic, and is just as listlessly romantic.
Some of his movies are inscrutable, and while Fallen Angels isn’t as complex as 2046, it’s no linear action film. Piecing it out would require more headspace than God allowed me, but maybe that’s a good thing. Film theory sometimes has it that you either respond with your head, or your heart (except that was Bertolt Brecht), and with Fallen Angels, it’s my heart.
And the image of Michelle Reis, as photographed in loving slow motion, is so cool and perfect. It’s easy to forget how weird her character actually is, and how obsession is sometimes a theme in these movies as extension to longing, but it doesn’t matter. This is a movie that lives in the moment, and it might not be an entirely comprehensible string of great moments, but Jesus that string.
Better than Chungking Express? Watch them both, back-to-back, and you decide.