Fallen Angels

   24 November 2013, late afternoon

I watched Fallen Angels again today. The film is the unofficial sequel to Chungking Express. They share similar themes, are shot in a very similar style, and even share the actor Takeshi Kaneshiro. There are lots of nods to Chungking Express in Fallen Angels: slightly remixed dialogue and scenes play out in Fallen Angels as an alternate-Earth version of events that transpire in Chungking Express.

Like Chungking Express there are a few stories of love and loss. In Fallen Angels the stories play out in parallel, rather than back to back. Takeshi Kaneshiro plays a mute that breaks into shops at night to run them as his own business. Leon Lai plays a hit man who takes his orders from (smoking hot) Michelle Reis: she’s also in love with him. Karen Mok plays a girl who has dyed her hair bright blonde so as not to be forgotten. Charlie Yeung plays a girl Kaneshiro’s character is infatuated with, who spends her nights trying to hunt down her ex-boyfriends current girlfriend.

Fallen Angels is very surreal. The film takes place entirely at night. Most of the film has this weird dream like feel to it. Everything seems amped up and unreal. Michelle Reis’ character seems to be operating in a constant daze, like she’s sleep walking. Most of the characters don’t seem to act or react like normal people to anything happening in their lives. I have mixed feeling about all of that. I find it harder to relate to characters in films that are too surreal. I think Fallen Angels doesn’t have the same emotional weight it would or could if it was played a bit more straight. It’d be a very different movie, though. This is a Wong Kar Wai film, so there is a lot of emotional weight. There is unrequited love. People being forgotten be their former friends and lovers. Loneliness—there is lots of that.

Like most of Wong Kar Wai’s films, Fallen Angels is at times quite visually stunning. Like Chungking Express there are lots of interesting ‘trick’ shots employed to good effect. A lot of the film is shot with super wide angle lenses. Most of the time the camera must be inches from the actor’s faces. (This distorts their faces, again making the film feel quite surreal.) This style of shooiting also lets Wong Kar Wai showcase what’s happening in the backgrounds of scenes as well, as most everything ends up being enough in focus. The last scene in the film is one of my favourites, and uses this effect quite well.

Fallen Angels is a weird film, but quite enjoyable. I think it’s a weaker movie that Chungking Express, but most films probably are. Hah.

 

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