My Heart Is That Eternal Rose- -
The triangular relationship between Lap (Joey Wang). Rick (Kenny Bee) and Cheung (Tony Leung) is the backbone of this film. Lap's father was once a triad; he retired and opened a bar near seashore. Rick worked there and was a couple with Lap. Force by an old partner, Lap's father assisted in trafficking of his father, Lap became the mistress of Godfather Shen. Cheung was her driver and loved her deeply. Six years later, Rick became a professional assassinator and returned to Hong Kong for a job. he met Lap, and Lap decided to leave Godfather Shen. Of course Godfather Shen wouldn't let his woman get away from him. Cheung helped them to exile. Lap, Rick and Cheung united to confront Godfather shen and his follwers. A bloody gun battle begin. Could every one survive at the end?
The curve of fate stretches with such elegance that transcends with dazzle clarity the conventions of noir hard-boiled Cantonese style.
The vividness of destinies, framed by sudden freeze that catch them almost hastily, “timelessly”, and thus making them exemplary, closes up on adolescents’ faces almost unsuitable to bear the weight of grief and of death that falls, inevitable, on them. And still, it is that incongruous beauty of those faces and bodies of the three characters – on them all the ivory tiara Wong Tsu-hsien, like a Giulia Rubini pried by Zurlini – to become the carrier of a “beyond” that the cinematic gesture of Patrick Tam shapes through editing cuts, with the precision of a metronome, quick and geometrical changes in perspective and sudden flights of tracking shots.
My Heart Is That Eternal Rose is placed in a territory whose poetic and political coordinates are inevitably given by the Sam Peckinpah of Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (quoted literally in the memorable ending whose details insist on the mechanic aspects of firearms and on the effect that this has on the bodies hit by the bullets), but observed by a clearly Japanese stare (of which the contest with beer mugs in the beginning enunciate the strategy of the lines).
(Do you know how to pick the millimetre that defines another movement?)
It is a matter of minimal movements, then, sudden ascensions and dilatations (the execution of Lap’s song, the flight of the dying bodies).
Elements, then, that never fully coincide. Imperceptibly separated one from the other: the face from the work of the body, the body from destiny, the destiny from the world, the world from the image. Tam, though, does not stress in a disgregative function this incongruency. If that, he lets these space-time millimetres filter the possibility of a “beyond”, a beyond the cinema, to which the characters, capsuled within their own destinies, are denied access. Exiled by their own love, the bodies of My Heart Is That Eternal Rose are exiled also by their own acts, a characteristic that seems to recur in several movies by Tam (think of The Sword or Nomad).
This exile touching the inner part of the bodies of the triangulation of faces which is the protagonist of the movie, is probably also where the vocation for tragedy rests. Not belonging to any place, they will be painfully expelled from every possible place. Not belonging to any place, they will be unable find each other (again). Inevitably, they will get lost again. And it is not by chance that the slow motion, pivotal element of Peckinpah’s poetic, is adopted by Tam from a totally different perspective. Wherever in Peckinpah the slow-motion means the manifestation of horror in reality, intended as bloody end of life, (and of the endless pain associated with giving it), in Tam the slow motion, that in My Heart Is That Eternal Rose is extremely evident, is an exorcism, the artificial dilatation, almost in a trance, of a moment of peace, of rest, of love, that cannot last (even though it is very strong in fire conflicts). The slow motion in Tam is almost like a sweet lie offered as if it were an excessive truth: as a sur-reality. Like an excrescence of text and gestures.
Like a sur-gesture of bodies already written or rather the only form of solidariety (rebellion?) possible in an already given universe. Seeing again Kenny Bee’s hand that clutches at Wong Tsu-hsien and the head of the girl that turns, framed by jet-black hair (once again an exemplary destiny caught in a moment and a gesture), it is inevitable to admit that maybe only M. Night Shyamalan in The Village succeeded in an equally audacious endeavour by shooting, as if he was dreaming, Joaquin Phoenix who rips Bryce Dallas Howard from the creatures (again: a destiny, a gesture).
Therefore, not simply lower quality (re)writing, but absolutisation of lines that describe another world. Through his recurrent aerial shooting of scenes, landscapes and corridors, it seems as Tam wants to suggest a labyrinth structure of the world and inevitably already given destinies represented by the given route. A destiny, a trace, a trajectory.
Cruelly, and this is one of the most distinct Japanese traits, the lines are beautiful in their ineluctability and immobility. And the characters’ faces, inevitably, cannot be anything but tormenting metonymy of such irremovable beauty (the edge of the abyss – again: marked by the bar counter- can be courted but not moved; it is your gesture that measures the limit).
My Heart Is That Eternal Rose is thus the image of a dance along lines already traced somewhere else: Tam’s glance picks the movement of the bodies that do not belong to the lines with the amazement and the dismay of a sight that tries to alleviate the pain of exile otherwise unspeakable if not through the absolute beauty of bodies which do not belong to this world.
The curve of fate stretches when it ravenously seeks bodies whose image it envies.
My Heart Is That Eternal Rose does not seem to be much more than the regret of the fate that, unable to stop stealing lives, tries to grant its gesture the beauty of the bodies it is about to break.
And Patrick Tam, astonished witness of this unspeakable theft of love, comprises within his view the painful ineluctability of failing granting it the only possible eternity: that of the resurrection of the cinema that (re)dies over and over, 24 photograms per second.
Dead, the roses will wither no more.
Thanks to Far East Film Festival