A colourful and stylish romp, for sure, but a feeling of restlessness sets in long before the series of false endings that finally bring it to a close. Time passes, things happen, but nobody emerges very much wiser.
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It's hard to follow, the characters are ill-defined, and the wide-angle shots used by Wong's perennial cinematographer, Christopher Doyle, are deliberately unflattering.
Fallen Angels is proof that Wong will try anything, and the result is an eclectic mix of images and disjointed editing, sounds and rhythms that are at times as powerful as any piece of filmmaking likely to be seen all year. It can also, every once in awhile, be tedious and trying.
Even Wong's detractors, who consider him more stylist than auteur, will have a tough time dismissing the extraordinary emotional depth he achieves here.
An exhilarating rush of a movie, with all manner of go-for-broke visual bravura that expresses perfectly the free spirits of his bold young people. [22 May 1998, Pg.F9]
Writer-director Wong Kar-wai makes these five self-consciously idiosyncratic types--often seen through distorting lenses in cinematographer Christopher Doyle's somber, garish Hong Kong--fully and instantly believable.
To describe the plot is to miss the point. Fallen Angels takes the materials of the plot -- the characters and what they do -- and assembles them like a photo montage. At the end, you have impressions, not conclusions.
If you're fed up with the stultifying, formula-driven character of today's mainstream films, give Fallen Angels a try. At the very least you'll be engaged, and if you're lucky you may just recapture some of your original wonder at the seductive power of movies.
Fallen Angels certainly abounds in visual pizazz, clever in jokes and trendy pop references, but such things can carry a movie only so far.