In the Mood for Love

In the Mood for Love ★★★★★

Love is likely the most commonly used motivation in film. This is understandable, as love is an easy way to make us relate to the characters on-screen, and makes it trivial to explain irrational behavior.

However, it is quite rare to see a picture that frames love so delicately, so subtly, and makes us feel that love with the camera instead of words. Instead of bursting soliloquys or turning points set to a rainy evening, Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan's love is established through their shifting gazes, their hands brushing against one another, and dinners in which they imitate each other's spouses. There is never an explosion, simply a slow build, a creeping realization of their true feelings.

The framing conveys this perfectly, capturing the claustrophobic nature of their cramped apartment building. The shots are intimate, with the camera placed in bookshelves, peeping through doorways, and placed in recurring locations. This shows us that Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan cannot escape their peeping neighbors, nor the omnipresent feelings of shame that accompany their actions. The closeness of the camera is essential in allowing us to see the subtle depictions of affection which convey the lovers' feelings.

Recurring shots and locations help in depicting the steady evolution of their relationship. And as the strings swell and the Nat King Cole song plays, we see that their feelings are reaching a point of no return, and that they will break the vow that began their relationship.

But Mrs.Chan and Mr. Chow never betray themselves. They began with the pledge that they would never be like their cheating partners, and when Mr. Chow decides that the building suspicion of his peers is too great he decides to run. And she follows him, but cannot bear to meet him. It would seem, that some love is impossible.

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