Sunday, March 27, 2011

In the Mood for Love

In the Mood for Love is an extraordinarily beautiful film, both literally in the way it looks and figuratively in the story it tells. Its look isn't overly flashy, and it doesn't call attention to itself, but it's still a gorgeous film, effortlessly using color and careful composition to create an almost heavenly portrait of 60s Hong Kong. There's a recurring motif of the same piece of music being played over slow motion footage that effectively paces the story and never gets old, and there are plenty of little touches and camera moves that enhance the mood throughout. This is the only film I've seen by Wong Kar-wai, but it's enough for me to declare him one of the best visual directors working today.

The movie is a love story, though an unusual and sad one. Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow move into rooms in adjacent apartments on the same day, and feel a shared sense of loneliness and isolation from the couples they move in with as their spouses are always working late or on business trips. It is not too long before they realize that their spouses are probably cheating on them with each other, and they begin to spend time with each other commiserating on this fact before deeper feelings develop. The political turmoil going on during the time of the plot plays a large factor in their lives, as it helps keep them apart when things might have otherwise happened differently. It's a very subtle and simple plot, told with simple conversations and little physical details that sometimes require close attention to discover the real meaning behind. I ended up feeling depressed by the whole thing, but it was impossible not to recognize the skill behind the direction and acting. Good film.

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