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Happy together

On love as an abandonment of family & the familiar

Lai Yiu-fai is the lover of Ho Po-Wing. He narrates their story. He says they have been together for a while, but they always break up – whenever Po-wing wants to start being together again, they do. Yiu-fai seems slavish in his obedience, but before we pity or contemn him, we ought to learn whether he thinks Po-wing knows something or could learn something he needs or is good for him.

They decide to leave Hong Kong for Argentina, where they hope to find happiness. Yiu-fai sees an image of the falls of Iguazu. They decide to go there. They lose their way, then Po-wing says he’s bored & breaking up with him. Yiu-fai ends up in Buenos Aires, a doorman at a tango club, hoping to get money to return to Hong Kong. One night, he sees Po-wing come in with several other young men, looking debonair.

Po-wing pretends not to see him, but then starts looking for him again. Yiu-fai is angry enough to have found his dignity. He knows he is now full of regret because of Po-wing. One day, Po-wing brings him a golden watch; it emerges, he stole it, & was beaten for it. But for his fragility, Po-wing would be tyrannic. Because he loves beauty, Yiu-fai is easily tyrannized. Po-wing attempted to treat him like he is treated by his lovers.

Inevitably, Po-wing becomes needy. He is beaten, bloody; his hands are cut. Yiu-fai takes him in, nurses him back to health. Love is about possession. The homeless make a home together. Life is like this: Yiu-fai catches a cold following Po-wing, who then makes him cook for them, though he’s very ill. When he recovers, Po-wing takes him to horse races, then teaches him the tango.

Their new erotic adventure is marred by lack of trust. Yiu-fai detests Po-wing’s promiscuity. Winter turns to summer, Yiu-fai changes from tango to cook in a Chinese restaurant. He dares not hope Po-wing has come to appreciate the good, so he steals his passport. It is strange to see how much he wants to be loved. How jealous he is, how willing to endure. Soon enough he becomes similarly promiscuous. He might see that Po-wing also hates his weakness. He decides to go home. He starts working nights at a slaughterhouse – sleeping days, he avoids his desires.

Argentina might be the land of the tango, beautiful, illegal passion. Or it might be the end of the world. A man can hope to abandon his secrets, which are his secret longings, his regrets, which drove him there. Yiu-fai only wants to return to family. Family gathers around the table to eat together. He asks his father to forgive him.

Another of Wong Kar Wai‘s romantic dramas.