In the Mood for Love
Original Title: 花樣年華
Release date: September 29, 2000
Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Screenplay by: Wong Kar-Wai
Cast: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung
Chance meetings and fleeting moments tend to bring about the most interesting and memorable situations, and Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love is a testament to that fact.
After moving into adjacent apartments, Chow Mo-wan and Su Li-zhen often find themselves alone while their spouses are away. As they both come to the same conclusion that their spouses are having an affair, the two bond in the strangest of ways: imagining and re-enacting how the affair between their spouses began. Their relationship continues to develop and change over time, but even their cautious natures can’t prevent the inevitable.
In the Mood for Love is as far from a traditional romance as you can get, and yet each scene portrays love and all of its intricacies. There are moments of pure passion and moments of pure heartache. It is an ever-changing beast, and the relationship between the main characters undergoes incredibly emotional transitions throughout. Wong Kar-Wai’s incredible direction and writing realistically captures the effects that love can have on two people — be it overwhelming loneliness or romantic longing. Kar-Wai’s film presents the purest depiction of love ever shown on film, especially in its colorful slow motion scenes set to evocative music.
The camerawork is dedicated to presenting this relationship from corners and angles of all sorts, making the viewer feel like a voyeur watching this elicit relationship unfold. Along with the spectacular camerawork, William Chang’s costume and production design further establishes this passionate atmosphere, one that truly leaves everyone in the mood for love. Even the music, as melancholy as it is at times, only serves to further enhance the content of the film, making it a perfect blend of poetic storytelling and technical majesty.
Engaging in an extra-marital relationship, platonic or romantic, is something that is frowned upon more often than not. Yet here within In the Mood for Love it is nearly impossible to find anything shameful about the bond between the two. In place of judgment, we find only worry and understanding. Worry that this relationship will end in nothing but pain, and understanding because these two have found something everyone wants: someone who truly cares.
Without the outstanding performances from Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Maggie Cheung, the film would be nothing. Individually, each one knows exactly how to convey how overwhelming loneliness can be. Together, their chemistry is explosive, culminating in scenes that are drowning in sensuality, even when the two simply exchange a few words.
A truly masterful study of love and its effect on two lonely people, Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love is a bittersweet romance that is unlikely ever to be forgotten.