In The Mood For Love

In The Mood For Love

5.0 7
Director: Wong Kar-Wai

Cast: Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Maggie Cheung, Lai Chin

     
 

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For his first film since the 1997 Hong Kong handover, auteur filmmaker Wong Kar-wai directs this moody period drama about unrequited love that, like his earlier work, swoons with romantic melancholy. Set in a Shanghaiese enclave in Hong Kong in 1962, the film centers on two young couples who rent adjacent rooms in a cramped and crowded tenement. Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung… See more details below

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Overview

For his first film since the 1997 Hong Kong handover, auteur filmmaker Wong Kar-wai directs this moody period drama about unrequited love that, like his earlier work, swoons with romantic melancholy. Set in a Shanghaiese enclave in Hong Kong in 1962, the film centers on two young couples who rent adjacent rooms in a cramped and crowded tenement. Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung) works as a secretary in an export company while her husband's job at a Japanese multinational keeps him away on extended business trips. Across the hall, Chow (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) works as a newspaper editor and is married to a woman who is also frequently out of town. Neither respective spouse is ever shown in full, instead they are shot from the back or obscured by walls and furniture. Li-zhen and Chow soon strike up a cordial -- if tenative -- friendship. Chow begins to suspect that his wife's long absences are not entirely business related when he stops in unannounced at her office to discover that she is not there. Later, a colleague tells him that he saw his wife with another man. The icing on the cake comes when Chow notices that Li-zhen's handbag is identical to his wife's while Li-zhen discovers that Chow is wearing a tie that she gave her husband; it doesn't take long for them to realize that their spouses are sleeping together. Drawn together by shame and anger, Chow and Li-zhen reveal nothing of their discoveries to their partners. While working through their guilt by imagining how their adulterous spouses first hooked up and rehearsing interrogations, the pair slowly fall in love in spite of their determination to uphold their end of their marital vows. In the Mood for Love, which was screened in competition at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, barely made it to the fest's final slot; Wong Kar-wai was reportedly shooting scenes in Cambodia a week prior to the festival.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
In the Mood for Love is a lushly romantic, intensely sensual film, even though the two principals rarely so much as hold hands onscreen. The leads are photographed to emphasize their movie star looks, and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Maggie Cheung each give the sort of performance in which a glance or gesture means more than much of the dialogue. Director Wong Kar-wai's use of color, music, and sound is simultaneously nostalgic and refreshingly original. The gorgeous photography pours color through each scene, making everything from Li-Zhen's extraordinary dresses to the drab hallways seem beautiful. One often thinks of great cinematography as being stunning scenery, but the canvas here is of alleys, stairways, cramped offices, and even more cramped apartments and is every bit as breathtaking, perhaps even more so because beauty has been found in the most unexpected of places. Wong's use of tight shots and low lighting adds to the intimate atmosphere, as well as his reliance on a slow-moving camera that takes its time to absorb all that is going on, practically moving in sync with the music. Similarly, there is the continual presence of food. In scene after scene, the characters are either eating or preparing to eat, creating the feeling for the audience that they are peeking in on the characters' quieter, more personal moments. Throughout the film, what is unsaid is almost more important than what is actually said, and there is a sense that the film is a memory of one or both of the leads, looking back with regret at lost opportunities. In the Mood for Love ultimately provides a rare look at a director who is maturing as a cinematic storyteller.
Village Voice - J. Hoberman
Boldly mannered yet surprisingly delicate, In the Mood for Love is a wondrously perverse movie that not only evokes a lost moment in time but circles around an unrepresentable subject. Mood is the operative word.... Studied as it is, In the Mood for Love might have felt airless or static were it not for the oblique editing. Every artful contrivance is fuel for the fire, ashes of time scattered on the wind. "That era has passed" is the closing sentiment. "Nothing that belongs to it exists any more." Is In the Mood for Love Sirkian? Proustian? Can we speak of the Wongian? This 43-year-old writer-director is the most avant-garde of pop filmmakers (or vice versa).
New York Times - Elvis Mitchell
In the Mood for Love is probably the most breathtakingly gorgeous film of the year, dizzy with a nose-against-the-glass romantic spirit that has been missing from the cinema forever, a spirit found in F. Scott Fitzgerald, the best Roxy Music and minor-key romantic movies.... The pining here is so graceful that you may be transfixed by it. Instead of explicit physical tangles Mr. Wong eroticizes each movement of his camera, something not many others could do because no one can cut within a camera move the way he does... This film goes so far in the other direction that there's a fetishistic fixation on clothes; the beautiful floral-patterned silk dresses worn by Ms. Cheung have a sexual charge.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/02/2012
UPC:
0715515099417
Original Release:
2000
Rating:
PG
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
ABC
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound]
Time:
1:38:00
Sales rank:
7,166

Cast & Crew

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Scene Index

"In the Mood for Love," Director Wong Karwai's documentary on the making of the film; Deleted scenes, with commentary by Wong; Hua yang de nian hua (2000), a short film by Wong; Archival interview with Wong and a "cinema lesson" given by the director at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival; Toronto International Film Festival press conference from 2000, with stars Maggie Cheung Man-yuk and Tony Leung Chiu-wai ; Two new interviews with critic Tony Rayns, one about the film and the other about the soundtrack, featuring musical cues; Trailers and TV spots; Plus: a Booklet featuring an essay by film critic Steve Erickson and the Liu Yi-chang story that provided thematic inspiration for the film

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