In the Mood for Love ★★★★

So it's taken three films, but I've finally found a Wong Kar-Wai film that I like. I was worried at the start of this one as, for reasons I would figure out later in the film, it felt very reminiscent of 2046, a film I disliked quite a bit. Fortunately after about twenty minutes or so I started to like the constrained interplay between the leads and the overall conceit of what they were attempting (pretending?) to do. As things progressed I became more and more invested in their relationship, something that failed to happen with both 2046 and Chungking.

Leung was by far the stronger of the two leads. In fact I'm not sure I liked the female lead at all, but Leung was so good that he made up for what she lacked. Whether he was acting the part of the uncaring husband, dealing with his goofy buddy, or even just leaning against a dresser coolly smoking a cigarette, he did it all perfectly. If not for him, I'm not sure this film would have even worked.

As usual Wai's technique was a mixed bag, but in this case, unlike in what I have seen previously, the bag contained more good than bad. I can't stand the staccato slow-motion nonsense he seems to love, but fortunately there was only a relatively small amount of it here and he did actually have some great sequences; the two of them in the rain under the awning, the simple passing on the stairs between two unsure, potential lovers, and the hotel scene when she can't decide whether to go up or not, were all great. The melancholic violin pervading throughout was also fantastic and really helped the mood of the film.

It's a quiet, simple film and I think that is why it worked so much better for me. In the previous two films I have watched from Wai I think he was too busy getting wrapped up in technique and making "interesting" connections and structures. In The Mood For Love does not get bogged down with all of that nonsense and just lets the characters do their thing. Sometimes simple is the way to go.