Narrative Symmetry in Chungking Express

Inside Criterion / On the Channel — Mar 26, 2018

One of the most beloved films of the nineties, Wong Kar-wai’s Chungking Express captures the whiplash rhythms and tenuous connections of urban life through two divergent storylines, each centered on a heartsick cop and a mysterious woman with whom he becomes romantically entangled. The movie’s buoyant mood, created with the help of charismatic performances from a cast of Hong Kong superstars, belies its daringly experimental approach to film form. In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, now streaming on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, scholar David Bordwell isolates the recurring motifs in Chungking Express, illustrating how the director uses small details to unite two sections that never intersect on a narrative level. Watch the above excerpt for an introduction to Wong’s innovative approach to structure, then head to the Channel to enjoy Bordwell’s piece in its entirety and our edition of the film.