Thursday, August 23, 2012

In The Mood For Love (5/5)

In The Mood For Love takes place in a tiny apartment in Hong Kong during the 60s, where two neighbors spend so much time in close proximity that it's no wonder their lives eventually crossed. Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung's characters suspect that their respective spouses are having an affair, and started to have an unlikely friendship. They meet for quiet meals and shy discussions, passing time together as it dawns upon them that maybe they were destined for each other.

Working as usual without a script or an elaborate narrative, Wong Kar Wai allows the tale of infidelity and secrets play out in the most subtle situations. The viewer might see a romance budding like a flower in spring- patient and gradual at first- but in the end it all comes down to the melancholia of resignation and 'what if's. The two leads spend so much time together, albeit secretly, but they seem to understand that whatever will blossom between them can never be acted upon. This is not unrequited love but resisted love, as Leung and Cheung's character are always seen to be struggling to stay apart by talking in cautious distance and restrained affection. They're usually seen talking about the weather, Cheung's character fondly helping him out with his journal, and sometimes they act out what they think their spouses are doing when they're not around, probably experiencing the same thrill of hidden romance for every dialogue they say.

Watching the two leads interact is like watching a couple dancing waltz, slow and graceful. Wong captured some of the scenes in slow motion like every time they pass by each other in their tiny and congested apartment. He also decided not to show the faces of the spouses, their backs facing us to elicit the feeling of mystery and betrayal. Working with his favored cinematographer, Christopher Doyle, every scene was captured as if someone was peeping on them. The cameras were strategically pointed at the window, mirror or sometimes behind doors and bars. It is intended to make the audience feel like they were intruding something very intimate, making them judge if what they're doing- how they're feeling- is right or wrong.

It's not only the camera that made this film very pleasing to the eyes, it's also the use of the dimly lit streets of Hong Kong that was oozing of oriental reds, oranges and yellows. 

Like with his classics 'Chungking Express' and 'Happy Together', Wong once again caught everyone's fancy by making this elegant, dreamy, and rather wistful film. Each scene is luminous and very detailed, from the busy streets of Hong Kong to Cheung's series of beautiful dresses. In many ways, this film will make you root for the two to end up together, but the fact they they don't also doesn't come as a surprise. Even though it's not a happy ending for everyone, the emotional might of their 'nonrelationship' is outstandingly effective. 

P.S. This song is probably one of the notable ones used in the film. Enjoy. 

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