Lisa Schwarzbaum
November 07, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

Happy Together (Kino International, unrated) Hong Kong writer-director Wong Kar-Wai (Chungking Express) won the Best Director award at Cannes last May for this narratively disjointed, visually luscious story about a restless young gay Hong Kong couple in love and in war in Buenos Aires. One (wildly popular-in-Hong Kong star Tony Leung Chiu-Wai from Hard-Boiled and Chungking Express) works as a doorman at a tango bar. The other (wildly popular-in-Hong Kong star Leslie Cheung from Farewell My Concubine and Temptress Moon) becomes a hustler. The two fight. They make love. They travel. (Majestic Iguacu Falls is used repeatedly as an image of the serenity that eludes them.) The two split up, reunite, and split again. They hang around battling the malaise of expatriatism, at home neither in their adopted country nor even in the privacy of the cramped little room they sometimes share. The vignettes don’t add up to a story, but Wong’s nervy style and characteristic subterranean-fantasy style (gorgeously shot by his regular cinematographer, Christopher Doyle) make for an arresting work about an exotic subculture. B-

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