I am not sure what I get when I come away from watching Wong Kar-Wai’s films but I know it’s something unnameable, unspeakable, something that cannot be caught with words. Some critic calls his works “mood pieces”. He stretches a mood to the point that it might almost snap and then moves on to create the next. I never saw another rain-drenched street again without thinking of Wong Kar-Wai. His frames are almost perfect. Watching a billowing skirt on a rain-drenched street, for two seconds, I was confused if I was watching a still painting or a movie! In Days of Being Wild – on second thoughts, not just Days – he concentrates on the inner life of his characters rather than the oppressive outer life in cramped, sweaty apartments.
The blatant image of clocks signified – not surprisingly – time and what we lose every second, because his films are more about loss than love. We don’t just lose time, we lose everything every second. Time becomes a symbol of loss even. With such symbolisms floating all over the place, I consider him a literary director.
I felt this huge sense of relief when I saw Chungking Express. Subsequent viewings would reveal other feelings but the first one was very significant. I was relieved that someone had put emotions under a microscope. Wong Kar-Wai was so interested in finding out about the minutiae of emotions, some specific emotions at that. He dissects love, loss, and longing the best. At the end of the movie, the viewer is completely immersed into the mood/atmosphere so much that it’s difficult to get out of it for a few days at least. The music, the rich visuals, all assault the senses. One of the few assaults that I actually like.