Ian Fastert’s review published on Letterboxd:
In The Mood For Love, Blonde, and Me!!!!!
First off, I’d like to reiterate what I said on Twitter about how thankful I am for all the people who care about what I have to say and I guess to some extent myself. Today (my birthday) I hit 500 followers, and I really had no idea how to react to that. I know I’m not very consistent, and I know that usually my writing isn’t long or very good, but I’m glad I’ve written something you like, no matter what it is. It means a lot that people care, really. The last two months have been really hard on me with the stress of life and a lot of overwhelming things being thrown my direction as I begin my later years of high school (yes I’m young sorry if I sound entitled or anything like that), and to wake up this morning to all the birthday messages I got was really powerful. It’s so easy to get lost in your own stressful world, and to have people who can pull you out of it and make you feel less alone even for a little bit is a wonderful thing.
Anyway, I decided to finally finish In The Mood For Love today as I got it on Criterion for my birthday. I originally started it back in July after renting it from the library, but I only got about 20 minutes into it and didn’t get to the part of the movie with, you know, the actual plot.
That was a good thing. I spent most of this summer acting carefree and trying to make myself happy, which sometimes ended up being at the expense of others. In The Mood For Love would have made me feel the impact of my actions, something that I wouldn’t need. Because it all came crashing down, and nothing I could have done would have stopped that from happening.
So now I’m on the opposite end. Staring through the window as love blossoms in front of my eyes, yet a separate entity from it entirely. I am the camera, which constantly frames our protagonists from across hallways, through windows, or reflected in mirrors.
So I get it more now. More than I would have back then, at least. I’ve been both, the husband and the wife, and now the camera, longing to once again return but lacking a way in.
But I’m a camera, so I probably shouldn’t go on about my story! So now I’m going to talk about the movie’s connection to Frank Ocean’s masterpiece Blonde. Because why wouldn’t I?
(I mean it’s basically the same reason that it connects to my own life but whatever I’m going to talk about MUSIC)
Right off the bat, you notice that Blonde goes almost in reverse order of In The Mood For Love. Blonde begins presenting Frank Ocean as this unfathomably rich person of power, yet lets this facade pass away by the end of the first song, Nikes. From here on out, we see the image of Frank decend from a man who is living the dream into a broken, tortured soul. To show this breaking down it moves backwards in time as the album progresses, ending with a young, optimistic Frank.
In The Mood For Love begins with Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan, young married folks who work hard at the office and for their relationship, even though their respective other ends don’t reciprocate this effort. When they find out about their spouses infidelities, they spiral down a rabbit hole of pain and love, which ends up teaching them more about the freedom and excitement of life in the meantime. It’s not all bad, you see. Frank’s love stories are not entirely about misery and pain, they’re about the life he lived in the moment and the pain it caused AS WELL AS the beauty of it all. And while Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan don’t end up recommitting the actions of others that brought them together in the first place, they experience a different, beautiful, more intimate form of love than their significant others. A love that, in the end, hurts them, and must be given up on.
But that’s the wrong phrase to describe that, isn’t it? Because when someone feels a love that strong, like Frank or the leads here, they don’t give up on it. Both examples end up carrying it with them into the far future, bringing it with them wherever they go. Because a love that burns like that becomes a part of you, and especially when ended such as it is in In The Mood For Love, with so many ways to believe in it not being forever, it will burn for a long, long time.
And years later, as Mr. Chow has become famous off the work that he was inspired to make by his passion for Mrs. Chan, we see him show that the fires of that love still burn strong.
Just like how we hear Frank repeat that he “will always love you” towards the end of Blonde.
Just like how I stare out the window and see the naked trees and think of the time of year and think of you.
We’re all in the mood for love. Even if it’s recycled, painful to think of, or out of our reach. It makes us feel special.
We deserve that.