In the Mood for Love ★★★★★

Words are inadequate. Both for talking about this film, and for all the people caught in its emotional quagmire. Glances, movements, touches -- during the briefest of times, those wordless moments carry more charge than any description of feelings can capture. And Wong Kar-Wai snaps all the mastery of medium he has developed over his past six films into a most precise focus. He milks all the above silent signifiers for all their worth, in an almost contradictory manner -- stretching them out until we almost suffocate in the romantic ache of these two people, but somehow never once making them feel like excesses. Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung passing each other closely in a stairway; the two hiding lazily in a room; the 'almost' that frequently crosses over into 'real' during their play-acts; and whenever their eyes meet.

Throughout, the camera moves precisely, the music swells, and these gorgeous and talented actors all but lose themselves into the roles and in the presence of each other. All the elements are in control and rigid, yet somehow the undercurrent of feelings threaten to well up and destroy them completely. It quite echoes the story of this forbidden romance, where the strict social rules and the two's marital status almost wholly guarantee that no event of big consequences can happen, but still, in our gut and in their hearts, everything in the world seems to be at stake. In other words, maybe no other film will ever capture -- through these stunning thematic and cinematic contradictions -- the essence of romantic yearning and its conflicting ache quite like this again.

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