In the Mood for Love is an entrancing mood piece.In Hong Kong, early 1960s, two young couples rent adjoining rooms. Mr Chow’s wife is always away, so is Mrs Chan’s husband, and we realise - before they admit it to themselves and eachother - that their partners are having an affair. Gradually, the unassuming and unfailingly polite Mr Chow (Tony Leung) and Mrs Chan (Maggie Cheung) begin to share time together and eventually, perhaps, something more.
Writer-director Wong Kar-Wai shot a love scene between Cheung and Leung (two of Hong Kong’s biggest stars) but did not include it in the finished movie. Nevertheless, In the Mood for Love is almost unbearably erotic thanks to the stars’ chemistry, and the sensuous cinematography of Hong Kong’s rain-drenched streets (Mark Lee Ping-bin took over from Chris Doyle when the shoot was extended).
Cheung wears a different high-necked cheong sam dress in every scene. She combines grace, frailty and pathos in her nightly, solitary sojourns for noodles. Tony Leung (whose perfect portrait of brooding sexuality won him the Male Actor prize at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival) seems almost too charismatic to be playing a cuckolded husband.Their initial awkwardness together gives the movie some lovely, unforced humour (Rebecca Pan and Lai Chen are memorable in supporting roles). The dreamy images are backed by a beautiful, insistent score from Michael Galasso. [Stephen Groenewegen]