Review: In The Mood For Love (2000)


Director: Kar-Wai Wong

Starring: Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Maggie Cheung, Ping Lam Siu

Release Date: 27th October 2000 (UK)

Watching In The Mood For Love is like browsing through an art gallery of beautiful color photographs, but in this case, the images are gracefully in motion. I bet even the storyboards for this film are precise and artistic. The dialogue and the story are presented as minimalistic but they still convey the heavy emotions of loneliness, love, and loss. It’s about the inhibitions that come with politeness and restraint, and the secrets that must follow from that.

The film is set in Hong Kong in the 1960s. The story is about two married couples living in the same apartment building. The quarters are close and so it becomes easy for a commingling between the neighbors, and husbands and wives. The story focuses on Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow who both suspect that their spouses are cheating. Within that restricted space of crossing each other in the apartment halls and stairwells, they eventually share their concerns with each other.

Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung) is representative of some of the women in the 1960s, whether in Hong Kong or not. She is trying to be the perfect wife, a good woman, and even the most dutiful secretary. Yet, she doesn’t seem that happy while pleasing everyone else except herself. She seems to be about presenting an image of what’s expected of her. And she does present a beautiful picture with dresses that were designed by Master Leung Long Kong of the Long Kong Ladies’ shop in Hong Kong. And adding to her polished look are her glamorous 1960s based up-dos styled by Master Chan of Yang Tze Beauty Parlour. With all that outward perfection, it seems hard for her to break free from traditions.

Mr. Chow (Tony Leung) is also a bit elegant as he comes across very cool and calm and yet he is more wiling to let his passion take action. He begins as a nice, dutiful husband, but gets bolder as he takes a break from being a newspaper editor to co-writing martial arts serials with Mrs. Chan.

Although Bryan Ferry’s I’m in the Mood for Love was the inspiration for the title of the film, it isn’t heard with in it. Rather the music of Nat King Cole singing romantic songs, such as Aquellos Ojos Verdes, Te Quiero Dijiste, and Quizás, Quizás, Quizás lace the film with a torridness that can flow from these Spanish-language songs.

The director and writer of the film, Kar Wai Wong didn’t go to film school, but he did receive a diploma in graphic design from Hong Kong Polytechnic. He sure doesn’t lack film skill though, and it’s easy to see his emphasis on design and aesthetics.

I watched the film with English subtitles. There might be some cultural contexts that are lost in translation, and then there is the political climate at that time to consider. There are also many metaphors to uncover.

There are many reasons to watch In The Mood For Love. I don’t own many DVDs of films, but I do own this one.

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