Thursday, May 2, 2013

948. Dut yeung nin wa/In the Mood for Love (2000)

Running Time: 98 minutes
Directed By: Wong Kar-Wai
Written By: Wong Kar-Wai
Main Cast: Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Siu Ping Lam, Rebecca Pan, Lai Chen
Click here to view the trailer


The first time I saw "In the Mood for Love" I gave it a '4/10'. Of course, you should also be informed that I'd just returned from the dentist, from having a root canal and that could have played a part in my grumpy demeanor and ultimately lackluster opinion of this 2000 Wong Kar-Wai film.

The film is set in the 1960s (1962, I believe) and begins with a meeting between Mrs. Chan (Cheung) and a landlady that she plans to rent off of, Mrs. Suen (Pan). They seal the deal over a bevy of pleasantries and as Mrs. Chan steps out, Mr. Chow steps in and asks if Mrs. Suen has a room for rent. She says that it's just been rented, but right next door there's another room for rent and so Mr. Chow takes that. Both Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow are married; Mrs. Chan's husband is away on business and Mrs. Chow works long hours at her job. After a while of living in the same tenement house, Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow begin to suspect their respective spouses of infidelity. They meet at a restaurant and after exchanging some pleasant conversation, they surmise that, yes indeed, their spouses are cheating on them and with each other. At first, they want to know how it got started, so they begin to meet and roleplay what their respective spouses must've said to one another to get the ball rolling on a sexual relationship, even going so far as to dine together, with Mrs. Chan eating what Mrs. Chow would normally eat and Mr. Chow eating what Mr. Chan would normally eat. They decide that despite the time they spend together, they're not going to become like their spouses and vow not to submit to the temptations of infidelity. They continue to spend time together and Mr. Chow even moves out, to another apartment building, so that all the time he spends with Mrs. Chan doesn't start to arouse suspicion. 

THE BOOK is quick to note that when you think "In the Mood for Love" is going to zag left, if zigs right. It's not your run of the mill movie and it's next to impossible to deduce whats going to happen, from one moment to the next. The characters are a little on the odd side, or is it the whole picture that just has an outer-worldly feel to it and the characters are perfectly normal? I don't know exactly. What I do know is that I liked it a lot more than I did on that day, following my root canal and it certainly intrigued me more than anything. The film is a living, breathing poem committed to celluloid and it's such a beautiful picture that it was really hard for me to dislike it. Literally every aspect, except for the story itself, is perfect: The music is spot on, utilizing a Nat King Cole song ("Quizas, Quizas, Quizas") and a waltz (Yumeji's theme) to maximum effect. The photography is great, as literally EVERY SINGLE shot seems to be plotted and planned before they even turned the camera on, making sure that every single frame in the film was flawless. The atmosphere and mood were great and personally pleasing. The acting is spot on, as Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung have a really good chemistry. It's just that the story is told in a way that isn't conventional and therefore it's a little harder to adapt to.

I used to think I liked films that used unconventional tactics, but as I grow older, I'm realizing that I'm more of a traditionalist when it comes to my movies. I don't mind filmmaker's going a little off the beaten path, but make sure your story definitely calls for that. I felt that this was an original, genuine enough story to hold its own merits and didn't need the tricky character reactions and unconventional tactics. Anyway, I'm going to keep stewing this one over in my head and come to a definitive opinion by TOP 20 time. I'm not sure how it will fair, but for now, having read back over what I wrote, I can say that my opinion isn't set in stone yet.

RATING: 7/10  It's at least a '7' and honestly, this is the type of movie that begs for a re-watch. Also, with the watching of "In the Mood for Love", I've officially finished the 21st Century!! Hooray!


L'Atalante (1934 - Jean Vigo)
How Green Was My Vally (1941 - John Ford)
Ossessione (1943 - Luchino Visconti)
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944 - Vincente Minnelli)
Laura (1944 - Preminger, Mamoulian)

May 2, 2013  8:32pm


  1. Congrats on finishing 21st century. I loved this movie from the moment I first saw it and just bought the DVD so I can finally re-watch it.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Mette! You're too kind!


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