Love Will Tear Us Apart | Chicago Reader

Love Will Tear Us Apart

The first feature of cinematographer Yu Lik-wai is a sharply etched portrait of the desperation and longing of four immigrant outsiders adjusting to the rapidly changing culture of contemporary Hong Kong following the end of British rule. As storytelling the movie is choppy and fragmented, but as a succession of images yielding a very specific time and place, it's potent and compelling. Ah Ying has drifted into petty crime and prostitution. Ah Jian—who's involved in an unsatisfying relationship with Ah Yan, a young woman whose promising dance career was halted by recurring foot injuries—operates a porn shop frequented by Ah Chun, a morose loner. Their stories never merge into a deeper, fluid whole, but the social context is admirably developed—Lik-wai's Hong Kong is harsh and bleak, a place ruled by a Darwinian social order that treats the displaced and marginalized brutally. The artificial brightness of a 7-Eleven and understated, ominous images of porn-district squalor underline the characters' fears, desires, and frustrations in a world with no easy resolutions.

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