Chungking Express was the first Wong Kar-Wai film I saw, introduced to his work like many Americans through the raving endorsement of Quentin Tarantino whose production company distributed the film in the States. Being unfamiliar with his style I remember thinking the plot was thin and the characters even slightly annoying. I didn’t realize at the time how much atmosphere and the quiet moments mean in his work. Even though some of the techniques used in the film make it look a bit dated now I still found alot to enjoy when I watched it again recently. The influences of David Lynch and Antonioni are obvious and I don’t think there is any denying that WKW is the patron saint of late night loneliness. His trademark themes of doomed romance, missed connections and love in absence are all on full display here. The character’s stories are kept simple and there is very little dialogue (another WKW specialty) but they manage to make a lasting impression and you realize how much you can learn just by watching them in their natural environment. I’m a huge fan of Tony Leung and thought he was perfect as the lovelorn cop who tries to cheer his apartment up after his girlfriend has moved out. Faye Wong is also great as the happy weirdo at the Midnight Express snack counter who sneaks into his apartment to make secret improvements while he’s away. WKW has a way of capturing the spirit of cities by shrinking them down through the lens of his character’s lives. I think anyone who has lived in a big city knows the feeling of being surrounded by people yet imagining you’re all by yourself.  Chungking Express is perfect for a quiet Friday night and like many WKW films makes you want to go out for some late night street food as soon as it’s done.

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