Ritvij’s review published on Letterboxd:
Watched. My rating: 9/10. Having watched the Love trilogy, 1995's Fallen Angels is my fourth Wong Kar-wai film. The film follows a disillusioned hitman who tries to leave the life of crime and walk the Earth like Jules from Pulp Fiction (1994). The other character that the narrative revolves around is a mime-esque mute who enters shops at night and try to forcibly sell his goods/services to any poor soul who ends up in his way.
The Love trilogy focuses on the themes of unrequited love and loneliness in a very solemn manner. Fallen Angels, which was released five years after Days of Being Wild (1990)- the first entry to the Love trilogy- and five years before In The Mood For Love (2000)- the second entry to the trilogy- has a very frenetic informality about it.
Shot mostly indoors with a handheld ultra-wide 6.8mm lens, the rooms and the characters and the overall perspective of the frame becomes highly exaggerated. Even when two people are standing next to each other, they feel distant and lonesome, hence carrying the same themes of loneliness which would be further fleshed out by Christopher Doyle, DP, and Wong Kar-wai in the latter two films of the trilogy.
But what makes this film stand out for me is that it lends itself to humor more often than you'd expect. And the shots tilt and float and look around with the actions of the characters, turning the audience into an eccentric observer. And if that wasn't enough to immerse you in the neon-lit atmosphere of Hong-Kong, it breaks the fourth wall many times as well bringing your attention on the act of filmmaking itself, very much like a Godard film.
Christopher Doyle has to be among my favorite cinematographers. And his work put on display here is just exquisite. Instead of showing you the rain pattering on the asphalt outside, he puts you right there; I could feel the rush of the cool breeze on my face. And the sweaty, hot little rooms with yellow palettes and the fishy neighborhoods... its as if I've been there. And I love the fact that it sometimes just inserts a black & white shot or the janky slow-motions where each frame plays twice. And the needledrops, especially Karmacoma, add so much to the cool-factor of the film.
If you want to compare it to any film, I'd say compare it to 1998's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The aesthetic parallels are really fun to notice.
Like every WKW film, it has grown on me since I watched it last night. And who knew that the poster features the final shot of the film.