Friday, October 13, 2017

In the Mood For Love 2000

          In the mood for swooning. Set in a never seen Hong Kong of 1962 the film directed by Wong Kar-Wai is an unrequited love story, one told and seen many many times, but never like this. A man and a woman separately take small apartments really just a room in a crowded boarding house for them and their spouses.
           The place is run by Rebecca Pan a good natured landlady, Pan who in her youth was a big star of the Chinese cinema and can be heard singing on the soundtrack. The man is played by Tony Leung and the woman is played by Maggie Cheung both veterans of Kar-Wai films. 
                He is a journalist  for a small newspaper and she works as a secretary who covers up for her philandering boss. We never see their partners, maybe a brief glimpse of a back but they’re both always traveling for their jobs. Tony and Maggie are supremely beautiful; they simply stagger us with their glorious looks and sexuality.
                  They sometimes meet on the stairs on their way to work or on the way to the local noodle shop to buy dinner and slowly they strike up a bond and relationship and a secret is revealed. They work at keeping their relationship discrete as the house they live in is cramped and crowded with noisy mahjong players who spend nights that move into the early mornings playing the game, and a communal kitchen that is also cramped and crowded run by a pushy but friendly cook.
                 They meet in hotels, and in cheap restaurants but we don’t know if a sexual relationship occurs, we are kept in the dark, although on the extras there are out takes that show sexuality between the two. I prefer not to know and I’m glad that these scenes were not included in the final cut. No one makes movies like Wong Kar-Wai. They are always visual and busy, rich with colors and music that filter through the action.
               Here the cinematography by Christopher Doyle, Pung-Leung Kwan  & Ping Bin Lee drop deep rich saturated colors on us, this is a nighttime movie with smoke filtering up from many cigarettes and streets that glisten with shadows and moonlight. There are near silent dinners and slow motion walks through alleys and by ways but we never seen any other people, the streets are there, the people are there but we never see them.
                  The spaces are cramped and tight, the air seems full of perfume and garbage. Someone said that Maggie has 46 changes of cheongsams, which are classic Chinese body fitting dresses that have high collars and are usually patterned. The cheongsams that Maggie wears are beautiful with wonderful floral designs (the only sign of nature we see) or geometrical designs these also take our breaths away because they are beautiful and Maggie is beautiful and the light and colors are beautiful and the music score by Umebayashi Shigeru and Michael Galasso is lovely, moody and sad. There are also songs by Nat King Cole presented throughout the film that follow the two as they deal with this hopeless relationship of theirs (and ours) he is the perfect voice for this love poem. The outcome is lonesome and predictable but I could live with it, because that’s really what life is for many. The ending, the outcome always reduces me to sobs. The best film of 2000.


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