kailey’s review published on Letterboxd:
my second wong kar-wai!
interesting to contrast in the mood for love (a film which i adore) with this, the feature he made three years earlier (which i admire). the stylistic tricks are largely the same- extreme close-ups, claustrophobic shots of enclosed urban areas, use of color to convey emotion, our main characters as blurry ciphers fleshed out largely by the actors, a haunting little motif that plays at crucial moments. but the effect is so different! in the mood for love was lush and achingly beautiful. this is harsh and jarring and decidedly more bitter than sweet. both the settings and the characters feel washed out and ugly. there was some tender moments (like the end where we have a flashback to the main couple dancing) but this was a largely painful watch for me.
i'm going to have to sit with this a little more. my immediate impression is that this isn't so much a plot or even character driven story as much as it is a story about mood and feelings. the little vignettes that bleed into each other don't really lead anywhere except adding in more texture to the ruined couple and their emotions at the moment. the brief interludes by a third character only really serve to build this up (and add a possible alternative to the otherwise sad ending). the individuals are less important than the pulse of the relationship between each other and the environment they find themselves in. that's why they still end as rather mysterious to us- we get only little glimpses into their past, their hobbies, their hopes for the future.
speaking of the future, i can't help but wonder if lai is ever truly going to find happiness. if he gets together with chang, will it work out or just be another repeat of ho? i feel like lai often seems to get off light in the reviews i've found of this movie but it takes two to tango and he was every bit as responsible for the mess of his initial relationship as ho was. i guess answering that question, however, would be a different film than WKW wanted to make. i'm starting to think it'd be too solid and affirming a conclusion for him to include as well.