Steven Sheehan’s review published on Letterboxd:
In the Mood for Love is a film that demands to be seen on the finest digital transfer available. With no planetary exploration or a single exploding mortar in sight, the meticulously choreographed colour palette is a banquet for the eyes. It is set in the 60's and bathed in the Technicolor sensibilities of that decade.
The grace and poise of Mr Chow and Mrs Chan serves to entrench the story into a time long past. Not a hair or piece of clothing is seen out of place. The wardrobe budget for Maggie Cheung (Mrs Chan) alone must have been phenomenal. It seems as she is wearing a new demure, figure hugging dress every time she appears on screen. She holds herself with effortless ease, the type of woman you expect to be chauffeured to and from her destinations. Untouchable to us mere mortal men. The type of woman you hope your daughter grows to become.
Kar Wai Wong carefully develops the world around the two of them, both perhaps 'too polite' to hurry and make a rash move. What starts as an exercise to take on the roles of their cheating partners only becomes increasingly claustrophobic. They are constantly framed within doorways, windows and cramped corridors all within their condensed rooms. It is only later when feelings become more complicated that the space around them expands. In the main it is an affair of the imagination, jealous of the fun their spouses seem to be enjoying away from them but not committed enough to cross that line themselves.
The time and place of these events enables Kar Wai Wong to develop the restrained actions of the couple. As Mrs Chan's landlady gently tries to remind her, a married lady in Hong Kong should not be seen out enjoying herself so much. If restricted ideas of female independence existed in the West at that time, you can imagine how expectations in Asia were even higher.
We never once see the faces of their partners as the restrained emotion of the two adds to the slow sensual build-up. You might expect them to explode out of their restrictive guises at one point. But they don't. Their miscommunication and timing eventually move out of sync with each other until the moment has passed and it becomes just a moment to reflect upon in old age. Falling in love has its scary moments but not as dreadful as losing the chance to explore it.