the Mood for Love"
|By Mira Harber
is a great movie - it is an absolute delight. I first saw it several weeks
ago, and I still can't get it out of my mind.
This is a film that has
great staying power, in fact, the more time that goes by, and the more
that my mind returns to it, the more I like it.
Set in Hong Kong 1962, In the Mood for Love is the story of an adulterous
love affair & unrequited love. Instead of the usual focusing on the
adulterers, this movie shows us the betrayed spouses, who are abandoned
for increasingly long periods of time, how the adultery affects them and
how they begin to form a relationship of their own.
Two Chinese superstars play the main characters - elegant, beautifully
sad-eyed Maggie Cheung, plays an executive secretary and Tony Cheung is
a journalist who longs to write novels. They first meet when they move
into adjacent apartments on the same day. They are quiet and respectable
people, pausing only to give perfunctory greetings as they pass to and
from home. As time passes we begin to realize that their respective spouses,
who we never really see, are having an affair. One of the most tortuous
moments in the film is when Mrs. Chan (Maggie Chun) hears her husbands
voice in the apartment next door, or does she? What would he be doing there?
When the betrayed man and woman realize that their spouses are in fact
having an affair, they become allies in a way. They play out imaginary
scenes where they confront their cheating partners, and these scenes, even
though imaginary, have a bite "I didn't think it would hurt so much." Despite
their growing attraction, the couple resists the temptation "We won't be
like them," even though they desperately want to embrace their feelings
for one another.
Immaculate attention is
paid to period - loud, Sixties colors (a woman's clothes match her lampshade!),
crowded and cramped streets, wet and blocked alleyways - all add immensely
to the mood of the film.
The way that the main characters dress evokes their inner selves as well
- Mrs. Chan is always immaculately dressed in swaying, high-necked silks,
(even when she goes to the noodle stall!) and Mr. Chow, in his thin neckties,
and shining shantung suit has a gleaming head of black hair, that always
appears to be wet - it rains a lot in this dense, atmospheric movie.
As In the Mood for Love progresses, the resolutely chaste non-lovers
relationship deepens. They obviously love one another, but the ending of
the film is almost ambiguous. We know these characters - but we don't know
everything about them, and that is one of the reasons why they continue
to live in our memories long after the movie is over.
Throughout In the Mood for Love, we hear a soundtrack that features
impossibly sad love songs sung by Nat King Cole in Portuguese, combined
with other pop music, and theme music that sounds vaguely and appropriately
The colors, sounds, camera, and composition of this film are so evocative
that I can't recommend In the Mood for Love highly enough.
Just make sure that you come prepared - you might find that you're blinking
back some tears. Isn't it great? Something to think about that doesn't
beat you over the head, and touches your heart! Isn't love wonderful?