Overview: Set in 1960s Hong Kong, In the Mood For Love, directed by Wong Kar-Wai, is an examination of how the seed of romance can form and leave an indelible mark. USA Films. 2000. Rated PG. 98 Minutes.
The Romance: With a delicate and natural touch, Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung bring to life the bond that their character’s form over mutual suspicion of their spouses. As the characters begin a romance, absent of sexual contact, viewers fall further and further under the influence of their organic on-screen compatibility.
The Setting: The arrangement of imagery is deliberate and top-notch as 1960s Hong Kong is brought to life. Wong Kar-Wai and cinematographers Christopher Doyle and Mark Lee Ping-bin shoot bright images full of color, framed around the compatibility of the lead actors to create the sort of vivid imagery one would expect in the work of a master painter.
The Music: To further the established atmosphere, eight separate (but at times similar) scenes are stripped of audio and played at a decelerated rate alongside a string musical piece titled “Yumeji’s Theme”. These scenes occur at calculated intervals and serve to provide a break for the viewer to absorb and share the experience in which the characters are already engrossed.
Cheongsam: A cheongsam is a form-fitting, one-piece dress for women. Maggie Cheung wears no less than 20 different colorfully patterned cheongsam throughout the film. Apart from adding to the color of the “painting,” these changes in attire function to signal to the viewer that time has passed, as some scenes cut so quickly that the changing color of Cheung’s dress is the viewer’s only indication.
Watch This Movie If: You want to escape the strained Hollywood portrayal of romance to see and feel how film can truly exude a romantic idea.
Final Thoughts: In the Mood For Love is a benchmark in romantic, atmospheric filmmaking. Both visually stunning and emotionally affecting, it is Wong Kar-Wai’s best work among many great films.