In the Mood for Love (2000)
Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Casts: Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai
It is a restless moment.
She has kept her head lowered to give him a chance to come closer.
But he could not for lack of courage.
She turns and walks away.
A beautiful, sensual film about unrequited love, missed opportunity, melancholy, what-ifs and perhaps. Such is Wong Kar-Wai‘s well-crafted masterpiece “In the Mood for Love”. This was the second film I saw of him after “Chungking Express”. I consider him a genius of Hong Kong cinema for he has so much artistry and uniqueness in his mind that he never fails to display on every film he makes. In this movie, he stylistically presented distinct images of emotions with the help of creative cinematography and the choice of musical score that perfectly sets the mood for old-fashioned romance.
Set in 1960’s Hong Kong, it is the story of Mr. Chow (Tony Leung), a journalist and Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung), a secretary at an export company, who moved in with their respective husband and wife in adjacent apartments on the same day. Their respective spouses were often away on a business trip or working on overtime shifts and as result, both of them were often left alone. Later, they learned that their spouses were having an affair. They then turned to each other for comfort (they even rehearsed with each other what they would say when they confront their mates) and eventually fell in love. However, they repressed this feeling for the fear that they might become just like their unfaithful partners.
Although Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung’s performances in this movie were subtle, yet they perfectly delivered the emotions of their characters through dramatic movements and adequate gestures. Some scenes were shot in slow motions and with the claustrophobic living situation, you could see the tension between the two especially when they were just inches apart and their chance encounters in the corridor and staircases. Christopher Doyle‘s hypnotic cinematography was shown in his way of shooting the images of lamps, vintage rotary telephones, mirrors, empty corridors and various objects instead of focusing on the people delivering the lines during a particular scene. The camera placements and color coordination made the movie beautiful to watch.
Everything about this movie is just so lovely, from costumes to music to the stunning cinematography. With the beautiful and elegant Maggie Cheung wearing exquisite “cheongsam” (chinese dress), everyday is like a fashion show of gorgeous images. There were repetitive scenes where she was seen going out at night buying noodles wearing one of these lovely dresses. With the sensual musical score played in the background during those particular scenes and her walking gracefully on her way to the noodle shop, I’d say there were so much sophistication and elegance even when just buying noodles.
This is perhaps the most romantic and sexiest film I’ve ever seen without having to show flesh and there’s not even a single kissing scene in it. Just goes to show how Wong Kar-Wai can produce the best romantic films in his own quirky way and perspective; enough to make you swoon and fall in love a million times over.
The musical scores by Shigeru Umebayashi and Michael Galassso added to the melancholic atmosphere of the movie, the laments brought about by those bygone years, the memories of those fleeting moments and that poignant sense of regret. The film will somehow touch everyone who will watch it because more often than not, most of us somehow experienced the agony of love.