Classic Movie Review: In the Mood for Love (2000)

Title:In the Mood for Love
Release Date: 29 September 2000
Director: Wong Kar-wai
Production Company: Jet Tone Production | Paradis Films

In early 1960s Hong Kong, Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung) and Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung) face the housing shortage by renting rooms in neighboring apartments. They each find they have more room in their rented spaces than expected because their respective spouses are rarely home.  They each begin to suspect that their spouses are having an affair.  As a result, Su and Chow begin to spend time together and form a bond.  They even practice telling one another what they would like to say to their spouses regarding their feelings of betrayal.

In the Mood for Love is a very stylized movie with bold colors and location shooting adjusted to have the look of the 1960s.  The men were nattily-tailored suits and the women, the tight-fitting qipao dress.  Director Wong Kar-wai often has the camera remain still while conversations happen off-screen and characters incidentally move through the frame.  He also frequently films people from behind obstructions or reflected in mirrors.  All of this intensifies the feeling of claustrophobia in the crowded city and the oppressiveness of unrequited love.

If I have one criticism of this film is that there are a few scenes at the end of the film where Su and Chow have a series of missed encounters over several years after the main part of the film. I found these scenes extraneous and didn’t add anything to what we knew of the characters and their repressed feelings for one another.  Other than that, In the Mood for Love is a beautiful and moving film.

Rating: ****