I didn't think so the first time I saw HAPPY TOGETHER, but I really think this film is a masterpiece. Technically it's amazing - the hand-held camera-work is incredible, and the mindbending shifts from saturated colors to monochrome (which I first felt was a stylish stunt) really underscores the loneliness and alienation of the characters brilliantly - the overall effect by the films' end is devastating.
HAPPY TOGETHER was apparently also - at least partially - inspired by the Argentine novelist Manuel Puig, author of 'Kiss Of The Spider Woman' among many other novels, and Puig's fiction tackles similar issues in a similarly fractured style (filled with footnotes, digressions and sudden shifts in perspective),all to incredibly powerful emotional effect.
If HAPPY TOGETHER is something of an homage to Puig, it's a great one. On it's own it's also a devastating portrait of a disintegrating relationship.
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Yiu-Fai and Po-Wing arrive in Argentina from Hong Kong and take to the road for a holiday. Something is wrong and their relationship goes adrift. A disillusioned Yiu-Fai starts working at a tango bar to save up for his trip home. When a beaten and bruised Po-Wing reappears, Yiu-Fai is empathetic but is unable to enter a more intimate relationship. After all, Po-Wing is not ready to settle down. Yiu-Fai now works in a Chinese restaurant and meets the youthful Chang from Taiwan. Yiu-Fai's life takes on a new spin, while Po-Wing's life shatters continually in contrast.
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