Rejection is a dish best left off the menu altogether!
Written By: Jeffrey Lau & Kar Wai Wong
Directed By: Kar Wai Wong
The hazy aura that surrounds A Fei Jingjyuhn hides the event that all the characters mark their existence by, rejection. Every character in A Fei Jingjyuhn feels the sting of rejection, it’s just a question of how the characters choose to react to said rejection. One chooses to lash out against women and treat them as objects. Another unburdens herself to a new man and then disappears for fear of being rejected again. A cop changes jobs and flees the country as a sailor. A prostitute surrogate mother hurts the son who rejected her by rejecting him. A dancer refuses to admit she has been rejected and searches everywhere for the person who rejected her.
So on, and so on the circle of rejection goes in A Fei Jingjyuhn. The rejection these characters feel is all too real, and plugs away against the super stylized look of the film. The two sides contract nicely, the rawness of the rejection and the artifice of the style. People in a movie that looks this good (thanks to the combined efforts of the director, Kar Wai Wong, and cinematographer, Christopher Doyle) should not suffer rejection. Their lives should be as superficial as the surface style that permeates the film. But, the style of A Fei Jingjyuhn feeds into the heartbreak of the characters, and vice-versa. Their sorrow is tangible because of the way the film looks, moves, and breathes.
Yes, I said breathes, and I meant to use breathes in the way I did. The beats that A Fei Jingjyuhn hits are far from conventional. The film is very episodic, but it is not traditionally episodic. There are rough cuts to signify a passage from one episode to the next, but time never seems to pass. The events transpire in the 1960s, and they fit that time period. But, the characters could exist just fine in the 1990s, or even today. In that way when every episode ends it’s as if the film exhales, hoping that something will change but these characters will not change because their rejection is timeless.
A Fei Jingjyuhn is a who’s who of the Hong Kong acting community. Maggie Cheung, Andy Lau, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Carina Lau, and Leslie Cheung are some of the main players. Those are big names, and A Fei Jingjyuhn is a film that features all of them when they were young and in the middle of making names for themselves. There’s not a drop of hyperbole present when I tell you that every one of those actors was fantastic. Xiānshēng Wai only appears in the film for a scant minute or so, but in that minute he exudes immense levels of charisma. Maggie Cheung is freaking Maggie Cheung and thus is adorable, and totally convincing at the same time. From top to bottom the cast was compelling, and helped to aid the tone and the visuals in creating an entrancing film.
The further I get into the work of Xiānshēng Wong, the more of an impression he makes on me. I already thought of him as a great filmmaker going into A Fei Jingjyuhn, and my belief on that front has only been strengthened. Rejection is a bitter pill to swallow, but A Fei Jingjyuhn manages to present rejection in its most bittersweet form. I don’t like rejection, but I did love getting lost in the world of A Fei Jingjyuhn. Any time that Xiānshēng Wong wants to take me on a ride like the one he presents in A Fei Jingjyuhn I am a willing participant. I simply cannot reject what I am being offered in A Fei Jingjyuhn.