While lacking Wong's later kinetic editing, Days of Being Wild is still infused with his concerns with time, timepieces standing out as the most cited prop. Set in Hong Kong and the Phillipines in 1961, Days' passes the time with the vain, sexually opportunistic Yuddy (Leslie Cheung), a quiet scoundrel who sleeps around with women, protects and badgers his alcoholic gigolo-addicted aunt/cash supply, and haphazardly pursues the whereabouts of his biological mother. But the movie also makes time for other characters: Lai (Maggie Cheung), the snack bar clerk who rejects and then forever haunts Yuddy, Mimi (Carina Lau), the good-time girl who won't let Yuddy go, the cop (Andy Lau) who tries to court Lai and finds his life persistently intersecting Yuddy's while he waits for Lai's phone call, and Yuddy's best friend (Jacky Cheung) who idolizes Yuddy even if it won't get him his women.
Days of Being Wild features a strikingly underpopulated Hong Kong, and
these characters create a particular, small world, that is as cryptic as it is spellbinding. Even the addition of a curious coda that features the all-of-a-sudden appearance of Tony Leung has a certain sense: he too seems like a tangent that compensates for the ultimate futility of Yuddy's character. (In actuality, a Part II was envisioned that was to have featured this star, but it never materialized.)
Wong's first collaboration with Christopher Doyle, Days of Being Wild -- the HK title for Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause -- is a consistently mesmerizing tale of men and women, memory, exile, chance, and time's uncooperative nature.
Days of Being Wild Director's Statement
On Memory: "1960 was a good year, the beginning of a decade, a prelude to the sixties. Back in those days, the sun was brighter, the air fresher, with the sound from the wireless sets flowing down the streets, from a distance...it felt so good. It was like a dream. Of course it could easily have been a dream. With memories, one simply cannot avoid that rosy tinge setting in. Bad memories will fade out. What we want to remember will be remembered, lovingly."
On Love: "In the beginning, I wanted to tell a story about love in those early years, how love was a many calamitous thing and that there was no cure for those infected. Time may heal wounds but there is no way to mend a broken heart."
On Cinema: "I loved the cinema as a child. The attraction was that I could always lose myself in that re-created world: to cry, to laugh, to get angry, to feel deprived.. and I enjoyed those feelings tremendously. I really do not think it matters much if my films are critically well-received or not. What is essential is that I want my audience to leave the cinema having enjoyed the film, and that means the whole world to me. What cinema has offered me, I dearly wish to pass it on to others."
-- from The 15th Hong Kong International Film Festival
Director and Writer: Wong Kar-wai (1991)
Cinematographer: Christopher Doyle
Starring: Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Carina Lau, Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung, Rebecca Pan, Tony Leung (Chiu-wai)