Movie Review: In the Mood for Love

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
I have yet to find a review that does justice to In the Mood for Love . Perhaps the visual architecture of the film defies words. Perhaps putting into words moods, essences or meshes of the afternoon are impossible. But there is much to say about Kar- Wai WONG's film. First of all the choice of music, three pieces sung in Spanish by Nat King Cole (Aquellos Ojos Verdes ,Te Guiero Dijiste, Quizas Quizas Quizas) that fit timely into the period of the film, the 1960ís; the Yumeji and Angkor Wat theme by Shigeru Umebayashi, played several times in the film and a haunting melody by Michael Galasson.
Violins tactilely pull at your heartstrings and induce memories of all the unrequited love affairs or unhappy memories you ever had. Add exquisite cinematography by Chris Doyle who shot half of the film. Clearly fetishized handbag, ties and bedroom slippers play important minor roles, as do thermoses of noodles, rotary telephones, tastefully wrapped presents, and handkerchiefs for brushing off sudden rain. Some of the scenes are shot in slow motion, the comings and goings of characters with nothing but work, rain, soup and infidelity to keep them going.
This is the story of Mrs. Chan (Man-Yuk) Maggie Cheung and Mr. Chow (Chiu-Wa) (played by Tony Leung, awarded best actor at Cannes, 2000) who rent rooms from two families in Hong Kong. Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow turn to each other for consolement for their unfaithful spouses.
The claustrophobia of their living situation and work is shot with intricate framing of the settings and minimal movement of characters, often in slow motion, crossing the square grids like blurs of animus. If the plot wears thin on you, you can always savor a skewed shoe as Galassonís strings send shivers up your spine. You can meditate on the dresses of Mrs. Chan), all high neck, with short sleeves, a tightly fitted bodice, and a multitude of different motifs and fabrics. You can gaze on Mr. slicked back hair, his cool and crisp white office dress shirts, and polished black shoes. You can wonder if they ever had sex at all in the room Mr. Chow eventually rents in order to write. Some publicity stills suggests so. Curiously, the high marks for eroticism stem from these missing images. While its true that we are concerned with their love, we are also reminded of the pain of connection when circumstances in society keep us apart. And the ease with which people do actually meet in most films seems like a falsehood. More than not, most of us do suffer in love, which is why this film touches our hearts profoundly.

This is Moira Sullivan for Movie Magazine International, Stockholm Sweden.

More Information:
In the Mood for Love
France, Hong Kong, 2000