In the Mood for Love (2000)

Genre: Romance, Drama

Cast: Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung

Synopsis: Set in 1960s Hong Kong, two unhappy neighbors begin to suspect that their spouses are having an affair so they begin to toy with the idea of having one with each other.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of the new Wong Kar-wai film, The Grandmaster, in which Zhang Ziyi dons fabulous fur coats and kicks ass. However, I must admit that I’ve never seen any of his other films. So many people have told me that I need to see In the Mood for Love and, last Friday, I acquiesced. Watching a Cantonese film whilst stoned is really hard: the language is quite difficult to penetrate. I’m not sure I even understood half of what was going on and throughout the film I was distracted by the looming thought of filing my tax returns which freaked me the fuck out. However, in between minor tax-related histrionics, I began to see why In the Mood for Love won so much critical acclaim. It’s not so much what you hear but what you see and feel. Allow me to explain.

There are moments in this film were no words are used. Instead we have slow motion scenes which feature a drawn out and sorrowful violin interlude. The key to these scenes is the body language of the actors. Both Cheung and Leung are masters at conveying their characters’ deepest emotional secrets through slight movements; a wistful stare into the distance as they wait for their food; the lazy brush of a hand against a sweaty forehead; a hand placed against a wall for supports as Cheung climbs a narrow staircase. Every tiny movement becomes drenched in emotion and it’s something that you can pick up with ease, even without knowing the language or even understanding what is going on. Cheung and Leung deserved every bit of praise they received. I have never seen such visceral performances that spoke volumes with the utmost simplicity.

If I were to use one word to describe Kar-wai’s direction style it would be this: meticulous. Every scene is executed with minute precision, almost surgical in nature. The color, the movement, the interplay of light and shadow is all wonderful and it all works together to create a central mood to the film. The mood is one of tristesse. I say ‘tristesse’ because I feel that ‘sadness’ doesn’t do the feeling justice. It’s more than sadness, but not in a bad way. The feeling is sadness mixed with beauty. It’s a wonderful and difficult juxtaposition that is pulled off spectacularly.

After watching the film, I feel that I need to watch the film again but this time sober. That way, I can focus on the language and plot progression. I’m honestly looking forward to it.

High-lights:

  • I love vintage Chinese style and this film is chock-a-block with it. It didn’t feel like a movie made in 2000 and I mean that in the best possible way.
  • The acting was marvelous. I have nothing but respect for Cheung and Leung. They managed to breathe life into two very difficult characters.
  • The final scene at the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia is breathtaking.
  • Spotting all the differences and similarities between eastern and western cultures. This film made me want to visit Hong Kong.

Downers:

  • The film is heartbreaking. My masculinity just took a nosedive.

Summary:

In the Mood for Love is one of the best foreign movies I have ever seen. Everything in this movie is executed in a manner that can only be described as mesmerizing. Watch this film after smoking something that will produce a cerebral high but try hard to pay close attention and don’t forget to have the tissues at the ready. I’m not one for crying during movies but this one had me blubbering like a whale. Speaking of whales, I just found out there’s a documentary about Tilikum the serial killer whale…watch this space soon.

9.5/10

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3 Comments

Filed under Drama, Mind Blowingly Awesome, Romance

3 responses to “In the Mood for Love (2000)

  1. You have no idea how much I loved this movie. This was my first experience with Wong Kar-Wai, and I decided to check out Chungking Express and 2046 afterward. 2046 is actually the sequel to In the Mood for Love, and it’s one of my favorite Asian movies in general.

  2. Pingback: The Grandmaster (2013) | bakedmoviereviews

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