In The Mood For Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)


Maggie Cheung (Su Li-zhen – Mrs. Chan), Tony Leung Chiu Wai (Chow Mo-wan). Screenplay by Wong Kar-wai. Directed by Wong Kar-wai. Rating: PG. Running time: 94 minutes.

So this is more like it. After being ecstatic about Chungking Express but then downtrodden by the elusive Happy Together, I’m delighted to say my reaction to In The Mood For Love matches the former sentiment perfectly, even if it does so for completely new reasons. There’s no self-indulgence here, and no mysteriously loose plot that’s completely impenetrable – a formula that I’ve found to have mixed success, the first time being utterly compelling and on the second occasion lackluster. Indeed, this is easily the most accessible and conventional of the three Wong Kar-wai films I have now seen. It’s relatively straight-forward story telling, accompanied naturally by his delightful visual touch and musical sound. The film is saturated in deep colour.

Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung play Hong Kongian neighbours, both married but seemingly single given the detached nature of their partners. We never see neither her husband nor his wife, both of which work overtime and abroad on business, yet they eventually arouse sufficient suspicion amongst both of our characters that they are engaging in infidelity. What follows is naturally the strongest of friendships between the two neighbours; they confide in one another and grow to become extremely close, at a time when non-marital male-female friendships were socially unacceptable.

What’s amazing about it is that their secret relationship is strictly and entirely platonic. This isn’t ‘In The Mood For Sex’ in any shape or form. It’s truly touching to watch, and painfully problematic for them as their relationship blossoms further. They struggle to be clear with one another; neither is completely honest about what they sincerely want. And then, in the end, we’re given a resolution we can only get outside of Hollywood. It’s painful, but it’s also incredibly beautiful. Another truly remarkable film from Wong Kar-wai.

One Response to “In The Mood For Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)”

  1. 1 The other thirteen (Part 2) « jacob williamson | thoughts on film

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