Johnnie To’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2”

The reason I got way less excited about this sequel than everyone else is probably due to watching just one day after discovering the original, a masterpiece, nothing less. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2 has great scenes, but mostly redundant great scenes, it is, almost entirely, a repetition of the first movie (which was already filled with repetition), with small variations (sometimes too obvious, such as the inverted images), and that is not the problem in itself, but the fact that it doesn’t present a new vision about that world or those characters, what it does instead is to turn subtext into text.

Those magic episodes of the past, the hypnotic images they produced and obsessed the characters are now a delusion that prevents them from engaging with reality, what was before revealed by cinema, to the audience, is now observed by the characters themselves, with a uncomfortable distance (they get doubles who repeat their mistakes, but can’t avoid getting involved), and this tactic is especially disappointing coming from Johnnie To, always so humane and careful in portraying broad emotional conflict, because sometimes it all seems overtly calculated to get a message through… One example: Much intensity is given to the delayed face to face encounter between Yuanyuan Gao and Louis Koo, but Daniel Wu, the future husband, disappears in the city where his building is being finished, he is only a name on a cell phone and a face on a computer screen while we follow the short story of a relationship that exists to mirror the previous one, Wu’s character (more evidently, but the same goes for the others) is reduced to a device, and has only real presence at the ending, on the top of the monument he built to a romance fantasy, it finally crumbles, the martian must return to where he started, ceasing to exist, again on an empty place with empty bottles, and his reflection, the brother, goes down on the same path.

Very unlike Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, which never concealed the gaps between those dreams/obsessions and reality, or how they impact the characters’ lives in many ways, or, a better comparison, Romancing in thin Air, this acknowledgment of superficiality of the onscreen romance and its manipulations appears to be forced, to take the high ground, to be safe, so it is not confused with vapid and deceptive entertainment. Maybe I saw it all wrong, but this dry conclusion almost made me forget the genuinely affecting moments achieved in a few spots.

Christofer Pallú

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