This is a classic moment. A classic moment of passing of time, a moment of exchange that transcends even the most physical intimacy. A moment of “meeting” in the most unexpected but heart-fluttering sense. It’s pretty self-explanatory, a guy picking up a girl. Simple as that as you may say.
But it’s not so simple is it? It’s a Wong Kar Wai film, it’s Maggie Cheung, and more than anything, it’s Gor Gor Leslie Cheung. Today. 01.04.2013, the 10th anniversary of his passing, a decade since he had left his loved ones and the ones that loved him behind. A decade since he’d chosen to take that fearful and bold path towards a place that he believed that he could seek solace and consolation from, a haven in which he thought could be the best place to get a good night’s sleep. The last unrevealed message that his manager Florence Chan had kept intact for years: [我終於可以好好地舒服睡一覺 – Finally I can have a good sleep.] I think the message, though not entirely expected by many, is very strong in context. It’s a bitter and bold confession, and not one that would be gladly received by many. Who knew how much he was going through? We will never know.
I never did know or truly got to know Leslie Cheung much, sadly back when he was still around. I knew he was a superstar alright, and I knew he was loved by many in HK. But the teenage me was busy chasing after idols that couldn’t string tunes, Korean stars that made the cheesiest of melodramas (aka Kwon Sang Woo time). My only firm and solid memory of his was his wonderfully hilarious and gayish take in the CNY flic 家有囍事 All’s Well, Ends Well’92 with the adorable buddy (and ex-GF) of his Teresa Mo. And I watched it only nearly 10 years later (just months before his demise), imagine my outdatedness and obliviousness to this icon.
Then 10 years passed.
Strangely, Days of Being Wild didn’t hit me as hard as I’d expected it to, or nor did I love the film as much as I’d wanted to, given the mass of rave reviews. I liked it good enough, but i didn’t love it wholeheartedly. Or rather I wasn’t as emotionally engaged compared to let’s say Chungking Express of even Ashes of Time. Not sure if it was a problem of mine, or just because the plot didn’t flow exactly to my expectations or come to full closure for me. But one thing was for sure, the one thing that sealed the deal for me, Leslie.
It was love at first sight, just like how Maggie Cheung’s character fell for his classic pick-up line. I’d heck wanna be his friend, even just for a minute! I was drawn to Yuddy immediately, instantly intrigued by his actions, motivations and feelings that drive whatever he does. His character development was the highlight of the film for me, not to say that there were any major ones. There’s this growing sense of empathy every time I see Yuddy flaunt his wasting away his life attitude on people around him. The cry for someone that he’d lost and never got to know, it’s so evident in his actions and expressions. The naked and bare emotions in his plea, displayed through erratic behaviors and expressions with the girls he toys with, and with his step-mother. His yearning and desperation for acknowledgement of his very existence cannot be more pressing with each scene. I didn’t even bother much with Jackie or Andy’s characters, it’s all and mostly all about Gor Gor.
I read about Leslie’s childhood life, and I couldn’t help but link his emotionally striking performance as Yuddy to his RL experience as a child, an unhappy one who didn’t get to have his happy ever after with family. Somehow it struck me so hard after reading that I felt even worse that he had to embody such a character with a similar experience. And to know that he had suffered from depression for a long time, it cannot be more painful to hear. This, an actor, singer and performer with so much to offer, with love showered upon by many fans friends and acquaintances, it’s sad, and it’s scary.
The film may not be my favourite WKW film, may not be the best, but there is no doubt about Yuddy being one of the most emotionally “rich” of his creations. The insecurity and vulnerability in his performance/performances overall (in other films), you feel it in his eyes, his expressions. He was one capable of conveying a certain level of genuineness and sincerity in his acting. It’s unmissable.
Gor Gor may not be around anymore, but the love that people have for him continues. 10 years have passed and the people who love him and respect him still feel the same, that he has never left. I may not have known or loved him as much, but he will definitely be remembered for as long as time continues to tick away.
Because like his most classic quote from the film, “What you want to remember will always be remembered”.
So apt. So true.
Some of my most favourite cuts from 家有囍事, never grows old: –
credits: photos as tagged / smileslie128 @ youtube