In the Mood for Love

In the Mood for Love ★★★★★

Movie #1997:

"You notice things if you pay attention." It's basically the Chinese version of Brief Encounter. All jokes aside, this film is amazing.

Like two passing ships in an ocean, the two main characters of In the Mood for Love, Mrs. Chen and Mr. Chow are victims of lonely isolated marriages. While their spouses are on business trips and working late nights, they grow emotionally distant and often lonely and isolated to their own thoughts as they react and grow into their new surroundings. Over a period of a few weeks, Mrs. Chen and Mr. Chow grow to know each other quite well and grow increasingly closer to one another as the film progresses. The cinematography is stunning with great focus, and immense precision. There's no trouble in figuring out what is happening and for what reasons it all occurs, because the cinematography is that good. The isolation is clear, just as much as the love and warmth felt by the couples. And while we never see their spouses in frame, due to some excellent camerawork by the cinematographer, we feel every bit of distance grow between the protagonists and their perspective spouses. Its beautiful accompanied with the slow motion effect as well as the moving and quite mesmerizing theme and score. This only amplifies the relationship between the two stranger to the point where their chemistry jumps off the screen and to the point that the absent spouses fail to provide much of a presence at all and become lost and increasingly estranged in the overall story. It's in this way that this film is perfectly directed by Wong Kar Wai. The subtle way he commands the screen and the actor's restrained performances, especially the main two's, is masterful. The characters' persistent longingness and at first small, brief interactions are conveyed so simply, yet so strong in meaning and feeling, that the performances and direction are truly alluring and shine to the viewer who is overanxious to see these two characters connect. The subtlety and greatness of it all is so remarkable. The scrupulous sound and attentive script paired with the impeccable writing and indelible performances ultimately drive home the messages and secrets of the film that our beyond the surface level of viewing. There's a lot going on and it is hidden underneath layers of tonal and narrative subtext. Using an unorthodox fragmented editing style, such an understanding can only work if you listen for every cue and hang on every word each of the four main spouses has to say as well as how they say them. It is rewarding feeling in many ways and the film makes the viewer work to understand such a deep and intimate understanding of these relationships complexities. I fucking love it. Maybe its no accident that the colors surrounding them both are cool and warm. With yellow and green being especially prevalent. His door being green and hers being yellow compliment each other. They each mean growth, happiness and peace and really represent what kind of people they are. Even from the clothing and objects seen worn by the faceless spouses, one can gather that the reds, whites and blues clash heavily with these colors like how the marriages start to go as the both off screen spouses become less and less involved in the picture. The rare use of red to communicate desire is only used a few times throughout the movie and represents the outward feelings and real emotions of Chen and Chow who to this point have been devoid of their real feelings, concealed within their standard colors of green and yellow. (Orange is in there too but I don't know what to say about it. It's more neutral I guess.) The use of these colors and many more is fantastic. The fact of the matter is that Wong Kar Wai creates tension and romance even when he shows the very littlest of hints of one within an extramarital affair to the point where you question if there even is one. He picks and chooses what to show/tell the viewer and what not to and this delicate balance is what keeps the movie floating on and on at such a brisk pace. This push and pull creates for a fascinating work of art and an even more thrilling and engaging set piece than one could hope with every touch and line mattering a great deal. And the film is even more believable than one could think as well. The characters are often trapped figuratively and literally within their own separate positions in life. This doomed relationship, often framed with bars or other barriers within the rain, is depicted in a way, that a happy ending seems all but an impossibility. Shockingly it depicts the reality of their situation with such clarity and hindsight, it feels universally timeless in comparison to other romance's of the time and of the modern generation. That ending especially grabbed my emotions based on some prior lines of dialogue. The ambiguous 'what if' nature of it, screams to be answered, but also is left wide open to interpretation, unlike most problems I have with films and endings such as these, In the Mood for Love does something wholly different and original approach, which made me love it even more. It is because of this that the film never ceased to amaze, which is why I was entranced from start to finish.

It is often our curiosity as humans that asks us to wonder what might have been. And within Wong Kar Wai's masterpiece about the non relationship between two unrequited lovers, he allows a shrouded and prying eye into their complicated private lives in order to allow us, the viewer, to question that exact thing. Capturing the period and relationship with a subtle grace, Wong Kar Wai's film captures every emotion even when it conveys very little. It is brilliant, unpredictable and a damn perfect film. 5/5

Brandon liked these reviews