In the Mood for Love

In the Mood for Love ★★★★½

If a violin string could ache, i would be that string. —Vladimir Nobokov

Let me preface this with an admission that I didn't connect to the first WKW film I watched—because of age, because of that specific film, because I'm really not great with Canto… But this film was 98 straight minutes of exquisite yearning, aching under the weight of repression and wordlessness, brought alive by the inimitable, and untouchably gorgeous, Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung. Language is precious and musical, from dialogue that shivers with subtext too raw and honest to give voice to, to the endearing familiarity between Mrs. Chan and the landlord in my beloved Shanghainese dialect. Language is musical, and music speaks volumes: violin keening, strings straining, tiptoeing, singers serenading, and often all under a layer of 50s compression, crackle, and reverb, which says, "do you remember when things were different?" and "imagine if things were different". But Mrs. Chan adamantly identifies herself as the wife of her husband, and Mr. Chow (a storyteller, unable to play out his own story!) devises rehearsals for their own lives. Both are boxed in frames within frames, and taunted by the richness of the film's colours, which would be rivalled by the strength of their desires, if their desires could only be blazoned across the screen. Sorrow, manifested in a film.

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