Release Date: Septmeber 29th, 2000
Directed by: Wong Kar-wai
Written by: Wong Kar-wai
Music by: Michael Galasso, Shigeru Umebayashi
Cast: Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung
Block 2 Pictures, Jet Tone Production, Paradis Films, Universal Pictures, 98 Minutes
“Feelings can creep up just like that. I thought I was in control.” – Chow Mo-wan
Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love is a film that is beloved by many, especially those in the film industry. While I had heard people talk about it for the last decade or so, I didn’t experience it until I was taking a course on the history of Hong Kong cinema.
While it doesn’t resonate with me in the same way as many critics and filmmakers, it was a visual treat and stupendously acted by Hong Kong greats Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung. I certainly can’t deny that this is a marvelous film, even if it isn’t my personal cup of tea. And frankly, the cinematography and the acting, kept me completely engaged for the duration of the film.
The story takes place in Hong Kong in 1962. It starts as two different couples are moving into the same building on the same day. Not soon after, we find out that the husband of one couple is cheating with the wife of another couple. The story doesn’t follow them, however. Instead, it follows the spouses who are being cheated on. They become dear friends and a strong bond develops without them crossing the line of infidelity. Eventually, their feelings develop into more of a romantic attraction but those feelings cannot be explored.
In the Mood for Love is a sad movie but it is also a movie about hope. It analyzes the emotions of these characters at a really intimate level and everything is just tastefully and respectfully handled, as the characters who are the victims of infidelity, don’t go the route of their spouses.
The story is pretty fresh and thus, quite interesting. It is hard taking this ride with the characters, as you develop a deep connection to both of them.
The real highlight of the motion picture, however, is its overall tone. From the cinematography, the lighting and the music used to bring 1962 Hong Kong to life, in a colorful and vivid manner, everything is just alluring and majestic. The film feels almost like a historical fantasy world even though the emotion and tragedy of the characters keeps you firmly rooted in reality.
In the Mood for Love is an exceptional picture and has gone on to influence other filmmakers from a narrative and visual standpoint. It is considered a true classic by many but Wong Kar-wai sort of has a knack for making high quality works of motion art.