Cute hats, though

Okay, so: this movie? NOT A HAPPY MOVIE. I don’t know what else to say. Neither do Angela or Erik. Is it good? Probably. Should you go see it? I can’t honestly recommend this feeling to anyone. It’s grueling, draining.

Cute hats, though.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]


8 responses to “Cute hats, though

  1. trailer does not look happy

    =P Sure doesn’t sound like a movie you’d rent on a Friday night for kicks.


    • Re: trailer does not look happy

      Nope. At least we had dinner beforehand, which involved surprisingly good carrot cake. 🙂

      I do wonder whether this movie would even be worth renting. The only reason we could handle it at all was that the scenery and costumes were so lush on the big screen. On a small screen it would probably just be miserable.

    • It’s just quite heavy and depressing, and I normally avoid that sort of film. I do think it’s well done, but since it’s the kind of movie that it is, it doesn’t leave one with a good feeling after it’s finished. There aren’t a lot of light moments, and the atmosphere of discomfort becomes increasingly acute and pervasive as the movie progresses… and it’s almost three hours long. I’m still thinking about it two days later, and I still feel uneasy when it comes to mind. Still, if you were planning to see it and are prepared for it, I don’t see why you shouldn’t go!

    • a postscript

      I guess I should say that I expected it to be a lovely period drama with some intrigue, but it’s really more of a dark political drama/thriller. It got extremely tense near the end. So if you know more or less what to expect, maybe it won’t hit you as hard as it did us?

  2. I just got back from seeing this and think the film should be on the short list of best film, best leading actress and leading actor. I actually gave pause about seeing this after reading your opinion. But I have to say, I thought it was an intense, engaging, passionate film with a narrative that was directed into a wholly satisfying ending. I guess if one went into the film expecting a happy romance, I could imagine “grueling and draining”. But with your warning, I actually came away with the sense of how love is even evident in the most cruel and heartless of human beings…that romance has the power to transform us from the inside out. And this without any contrived feel good moments. A+!

    • I am so glad you enjoyed it, and I agree that the performances are intense and compelling (and ought to be lauded). We seem to have taken totally different messages from the film, though! I saw more desperation than romance, more hunger than affection (and I don’t mean sexual hunger). The affair seemed to me to be less about love than about two individuals seeking some mutual pleasure and relief while otherwise trapped in lives of exquisite danger. I suppose there was some concession to love with Wong’s actions near the end, but Yee made no reciprocation… I found the ending deeply distressing because it seemed so hopeless. I agree with the SF Chronicle reviewer who felt the theme was, above all, about war’s capability to twist all human emotions into macabre versions of themselves.

      Well, it’s clear we responded differently — and I guess this is why the reviews of the film have been so mixed! But that reflects on the film’s artistry; whether we found it uplifting (as you seem to have done) or depressing (as we did), it still gives us plenty to think and talk about.

      • Yes indeed, the beauty and magic of film is not only the process of revealing a narrative, but revealing the hopes, desires and fears we carry within ourselves via the experience.

        I felt Mr. Yee’s initial predatory consumption and anger was evident in the initial sex scenes. But there are those quiet moments…the moments where he reveals his own observations and fears…where he begins to trust Wong with something he hasn’t trusted anyone else to give: his own vulnerability. When I mention “love”, it’s not in the classic romantic Jane Austen sense…but more of the transformative allowance we only reveal when love comes into lives previously untouched by it. Even if it was spurred initially by lust, Mr. Yee’s quiet tears were about the most romantic moment I’ve seen since the same actor whispered into a tree.

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