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In The Mood For Love

Hong Kong (2000), 98 minutes
Starring: Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu Wai
Reviewer: Val Frost
Genre: Drama
Rating: 4

Hong Kong, 1962. Mr. Chow (Leung Chi Wai) and Mrs. Chan (Cheung) move into rooms in a busy building, on the same day. Both are married, but alone quite often since their spouses are usually abroad on business. Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan are at first polite and then grow closer when they both realize that their spouses are having an affair… with each other. I think. Did I get that right? Well, whatever, both spouses are banging someone else and therefore Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chang become quite close friends. No, not that close, just people in the same boat who sorta dig each other’s company. They both decide, or she decides rather, to not take the relationship in the same direction as their spouses, so… where does it go then? Are they just friends, or are they in love? Ah what an interesting and lovely contemplation.

The story is often told through mirrors and reflections; those lost moments we always believe to be so important to the mood of the time, and then are simply gone with a sudden movement or the ringing of the phone. The view we get never shows us the faces of the wondering spouses, just their bodies or back of their heads, though only for the first third of the film, and then they are out completely.

Maggie Cheung looks absolutely stunning with vintage outfits with the high collars and her size two body. And Leung Chiu Wai is incredibly stylish and dapper himself. Both are cold and yet fragile, with Cheung having the most heartbreaking moments.

The movie is not long, it only seems that way. It is light on story and heavy on mood, space and time. Truly it is less of a story and more of a meditation on those forgotten bits of the past, those misplaced memories, and those tenuous would-have/could-have/should-have/thank-god-I-didn’t moments. The cinematography by Christopher Doyle and Mark Lee Ping-bin is gorgeous as usual, and really is the backbone to the movie. Two parts style and one part romance…well you get the idea. I’m not even sure how much I liked the film, but I think I did. Guess I’ll have go meditate on it for a while.