Bring On the Tears: The Cathartic Sorrow of Wong Kar-wai’s Fallen Angels

Design by Sara Offer

On a Tuesday night in the Yale Film Archive Screening Room, my friends and I looked  for a film that would make us break. How strange it is to desire tears, but there we were, five people wanting something melancholy to numb the changes of fall as winter looms—looking for a way to cope with the darkness daylight savings brought upon us. 

We landed on Fallen Angels directed by Wong Kar-wai, a creative mind famous for his non-linear storytelling and vivid imagery. The darkness of the film envelopes the viewer, making the whole experience feel more like a dream than a film. The story itself is instantly confusing, but one starts to realize the plot is perhaps the least interesting thing about Wong’s work. Fallen Angels is an aesthetic and  a visual experience that places the viewer in a corner of Wong’s mind. 

Darkness transcends through the aesthetic into Wong’s characters, and the camera works to foster a very intimate connection between the viewer and these peculiar people. The little dialogue they have is striking, the kind that could rattle in your brain for days. 

“It would be so great if it could rain forever.”

We indeed got what we wanted that night, a little laugh, and a whole lot of melancholy—culminating in a gorgeous shot of two strangers on a motorcycle, riding through the night, embracing the change of the seasons just as we all have to these days. 

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