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Worth A Look: 35.19%
Average: 12.96%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 1.85%

6 reviews, 18 user ratings

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In the Mood for Love
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by Greg Muskewitz

"'In the Mood' for 2001's best yet? (And I doubt it can be topped.)"
5 stars

The placement of adultery and affairs on-screen has become nothing more than a ritualistic commonplace, and so often they explore nothing that we have not seen before. But then comes along something with ambition, something highly unusual, and in that, is a miraculous discovery. That miraculous discovery happens to be Wong Kar-wai's Cantonese language film "In the Mood for Love."

Mostly set with a Hong Kong milieu beginning in 1962, the city seems to be on the verge of coming onto its own. "In the Mood for Love" relies slightly on serendipity, presenting us with two separate spouses looking for a room at the same place within minutes of each other. Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung Man-yuk) was the first, so she gets a room to live in with her husband in Mrs. Suen's (Rebecca Pan) apartment. Lucky for Mr. Chow (Tony Leung Chiu-wai), the neighbor next to Mrs. Suen also has a vacant room, and Mr. Chow is able to secure that for him and his wife.

The coincidence is extended further when they even move in on the same day, and both without help from their respective spouses. (An amusing scene has the movers bringing possessions to the wrong rooms and the entailing frustration.) Never throughout the entire film do we ever see the faces of their spouses, but we hear voices, see backs and know that they are on occasion, home. Chow's wife is a hotel receptionist (himself being a journalist), and Chan's husband often travels abroad for his work, while she is a secretary for a shipping company.

Neither Chow nor Chan see much of their partners, but during a "coincidental" trip abroad, and visitation of a sick family member, Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan, after some nice companionship to deter their loneliness, realize they've been bamboozled as their spouses are off having an affair in Japan. Suddenly everything clicks. Shocked and disturbed, neither know quite how to take it. In a twist of events, and in an unusual hope to understand, they begin role-playing, re-enacting how they think the infidelity started. It becomes a bold, structured psychological jeu.

We, as the audience, become unable to discern whether their actions are continued efforts of speculation and re-enactment or if it is bleeding into an affair of their own. There is even a suggestion, although it is then disproved, that there may not even be different spouses, but that Chow and Chan are amidst a twisted psychological game fully of their creation. The role-playing turns into rehearsals, rehearsals of how they will handle their unfaithful companions.

"In the Mood for Love" remains a complex, uncharted film. After several viewings of the film, I am still unable to directly say what it is about it that has intrigued and stirred me so much. It rivals the impact of "Lost Highway," and is easily one of the best films I have ever seen. A lot of it is a combination of all aspects of this film, from its solid structure, to the startling reality of the characters and their dealings with the unexpected, as well as the visual presentation of it. Wong Kar-wai unravels and weaves his story in a compelling and mesmerizing strategy where we are fed tidbits of our protagonists lives, some common dilemmas or other such developments, spliced with a stylistic, almost stock-like footage of a brief encounter at a noodle hut with the provocative accompaniment of a violin (a spectacular musical score by Michael Galasso), and then is intercut with the viewing of development without dialogue, and then back to dexterous building.

It remains unpredictable because the life-like characters themselves are only handling it has it occurs. Kar-wai's equationistic format is sure to be looked on as couture, and will likely attempted to be imitated, but "In the Mood for Love's" transcendent dissimilitude and provenance is unmistakable and conspicuous. It is stylish without it trying; it is different without falsely calling attention to itself; it is mature and deserved of much more attention and acceptance that it should and will get. (Although there will probably be a fine line between what it will actually get, and what it should have gotten.) But not only is it stylish, the style in which Kar-wai gives his presentation is formidable and uncharted. The interest he shows by the way he tells the story is only increased in appreciation by our understanding of the material. And there is not one single element out of order. Kar-wai beautifully constructs each frame and composition, and his awareness and cadence of when to move the camera, when to cut away, when to slow the frames down not to a slo-mo, but an almost strobe-like continuity, when to use static shots and when to interact with the characters, are all immaculate. The distinct color of the images and costumes photographed lushishly by Christopher Doyle and Mark Li Ping-bin are of the highest quality, along with the editing, production design, and every other component of this film.

"In the Mood for Love" is great cause for speechlessness, and its current arrival could not be any more appreciated or direly necessary. It truly is a godsend, and the ending is chilling and hypnotic. "In the Mood for Love" effortlessly removes "Cinema Paradiso" as the best foreign-language film that I have ever seen.

Final Verdict: A+.

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originally posted: 02/23/01 09:03:05
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User Comments

3/27/11 makmexico Truly a great work of art. 5 stars
10/19/06 William Goss Soap opera almost too slow, subtle for its own good. Well-acted & pretty, but not perfect. 3 stars
2/02/06 Reklc "He who desires but acts not...", said Blake, that's what this movie is about. 5 stars
1/05/06 Noami Absolutely hypnotic film. I am speechless. 5 stars
12/29/05 rk The tension of the unconsummated love in this movie makes it an exquisite spectacle. 5 stars
12/11/05 K. Sear A lot looser than I would prefer but captivating in it's own way. 4 stars
11/28/03 john a bi long winded at times but beautiful nontheless 4 stars
1/01/03 Andy Todes greatest film of all time 5 stars
9/19/02 The Bomb 69 hard to explain, very slow to develop but haunting when it does 4 stars
1/16/02 Robert Excellent film...story told through scenes and expressions, not dialogue-heavy 5 stars
6/07/01 Rico sweet,stylish,nostalgic.Reminds me of mom&dad during 50s/60s. Beautiful. 5 stars
3/26/01 nowak Moody, slow, stylish, claustrophobic 4 stars
3/23/01 stu55y Absolute must-see 4 stars
3/16/01 Spetters Very subtle, very beautiful in all facets, but also quite frustrating. 4 stars
3/07/01 Peanut I am in the mood for a blowjob right now. Oh, Deanna where are you? 1 stars
3/01/01 Deniz Selman best film I've seen in at least the last 2 years...perfectly shot, perfectly executed. 5 stars
2/09/01 Heather Beautiful, stylish, intriguing movie about a couple having a affair 5 stars
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  16-Feb-2001 (PG)


  29-Mar-2001 (M)

Directed by
  Wong Kar-Wai

Written by
  Wong Kar-Wai

  Maggie Cheung
  Tony Leung Chiu-Wai
  Lai Chen
  Rebecca Pan
  Siu Ping-Lam
  Faye Wong

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