Rashid N.’s review published on Letterboxd:
The King of Stylish Depression has striked again with his 2000 feature film and informal and indirect sequel to his second picture, Days of Being Wild. I am talking about In The Mood For Love, the legendary romantic drama that has proved its brilliance time and time again as people have watched it and found a profound beauty in it unlike anything else.
I began the "Chow Mo-Wan" trilogy with the first film, Days of Being Wild. I found it to be extremely well-made with great performances and gorgeous cinematography but overall, I couldn't really get into the story at all and honestly didn't care about anything that was going on. Thus, disheartened by that fact, I carried onto In The Mood For Love with a sense of worry yet all that fear disappeared within the first minute as a sense of wonder and loneliness began to flourish my heart. It had begun; I was enthralled by another beautiful Wong Kar-wai film. Another film which would make me love romance even more, a genre I had despised beforehand. Another film that would bring me such joy and sadness at the same time. I longed for so much here yet Wong refused it to not just me but the entirety of the audience at hand. He stroked our hearts before breaking it. He knew and understood what he was doing here and he captured longingness, loss, touch, and depression so well.
Throughout a fairly short runtime, you are introduced to such an intriguing world. A lively world. A problematic world. The blossoming relationship that occurs on screen is so fascinating, leaving you with a flood of emotions. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Maggie Cheung showcase impeccable performances with wonderful chemistry and at this point, they're probably two of my favourite actors.
There was something about this which reminded me about a lot of films but these films that I had thought of, I could not remember them. Wong Kar-wai managed to make me forget everything and live in this distant and painful world of longingness. The leitmotif used here brought so much to the film. A musical idea of a sequence created by Shigeru Umebayashi that was constantly used over and over again throughout this film but never got old once. I am currently listening to that very leitmotif right at this very second whilst writing this review and it has repeated numerous times yet it has yet to get old or repetitive. Umebayashi crafted a part of the score that was so vital and strong. Something so integral to this film and something that worked perfectly.
Wong Kar-wai has, for years, created worlds filled with loneliness, melancholy, and yearning. His films transport you into his surroundings. You feel everything; from the smell of food to the presence of rain. You are transfixed into an emotional state different from any other. I think this is most notable in Chungking Express as there I did truly feel everything yet that is the same here for this film, even if not as noticable.
There are tons of films out there which focus on joy from romantic relationships and have those awful and stupid fights before recuperating or those which focus on pain but only from the torturous and action-packed side but Wong's work is different. He gives you pain, craving, distance, and so much more in his own ways. Special and intriguing ways. He knows what makes people crack and he works with that.
In The Mood For Love hurts to watch. Forcingly distancing yourself from others is a pain and it seems like now more than ever is that statement ever truer. We live in a world that is the furthest from perfection but we live with that fact and move on. Just like how we must move on from this film at some point in time. Beautiful, Painful, and Amazing; this is a film worthy of those great, if admittedly overused, adjectives and so many more. I'll end the review here since I've reached my limit of foolish poetic writing and thus, I'll finish up by asking you this, are you in the mood for love?