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on October 11, 2017
Wong Kar Wai at his best. Maggie and Tony in top form.
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on August 5, 2016
A gorgeous film. One of Wong Kar-Wai's best.
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on July 19, 2004
'In the Mood for Love' is a touching, engrossing meditation on, you guessed it, love: what it is, what creates it, what ends it, what keeps it sewn strong together. All of these aspects are collected into a clever, lovely, sometimes devastating piece of artistry directed by the fabulous Wong-Kar Wai. Those of you who love romantic comedies or grand, epic love sagas will be immensely disappointed with his latest film. It is not either. Rather, it is a gem of cinema that strives for emotional truth and absolute realism. Inside of cramped apartments and old diners, that, too, is what the main characters of 'In the Mood for Love' yearn for.
The film takes place in Hong Kong during the year 1962. Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung) and Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung) have just moved into neighboring apartments and have met each other rather casually. But the two progressively realize a secret about their respective spouses and a profound relationship develops almost instantly. From there, the film sets a tone that is cislunar, seeming to float in its own world situated between reality and a sense of disconnection. Kar-Wai perfectly evokes this mood with fleeting slow-motion sequences accompanied by Christopher Doyle and Mark Li Ping-bin's delicately visceral cinematography. What ensues throughout the rest of the film (both plot-wise and technically) masterfully conveys romantic yearning.
The lead performances were breathtaking, namely Maggie Cheung as Su Li-zhen. From scenes of obvious hurt to moments of hidden despair, she ceaselessly astonishes. I'm surprised she did not receive the massive encomium she deserved from 2001 year-end awards groups, let alone the Oscars. But credit must also be given to Tony Leung as Chow Mo-wan, who managed to maintain a quiet, tired loneliness throughout the film. Leung also understood that it was only with Su Li-zhen that Chow Mo-wan felt truly alive with passion.
Another character worth mentioning are the breath-taking sets by production designer William Chang Suk-ping. The claustrophobic atmosphere offered by Suk-ping's dated, tight hallways was as much a part of the emotion and story line as each lead. Collectively, each part of the movie-making process (screenwriting, directing, designing, acting) achieved an assured concinnity; and in the end, what was already a personal, accessible study is lifted by Kar-Wai to a universal level using epic shots of Mayan temples and mysterious landscapes. As the credits role, it becomes apparent that 'In the Mood for Love' is arguably a masterpiece worthy of the all-time lists.
For me personally, the constant flashbacks of wind sifting past vinaceous curtains and artful conversations about love at its core only underscore 'Love's greatness. It is an unforgettably personal journey not to be missed.
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on August 31, 2003
This is one of the most complete DVD packages I have ever seen ... something that couldn't have happened to a nicer film.
This package is one of few that takes advantage of what the DVD medium promised when it was launched. In the same small package all DVDs come in, the producers of In the Mood for Love somehow manage to include an array of the movie's trailers and posters from around the world, interviews with the major actors and director Wong Kar-wai, a second short film produced by Mr. Wong, an alternate ending to the story that had been under consideration, and director's commentary about all of it, along with a variety of subtitle options. There is also a special booklet that has the translated short story the film was based on, an essay about the film by a well-known Hong Kong critic and a very interesting (if unevenly translated) essay about the setting for the film by a local historian. All in all, a really amazing collection of information.
Of course, none of that would matter if the film it was all based on wasn't so darn good.
The story is wonderfully understated, told with deft simplicity and a delicate hand. On the surface, it's a relatively simple tale about two couples in neighboring Hong Kong apartments in 1962. Through circumstantial evidence, Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan discover that their always-on-the-road spouses are having an affair -- a discovery that comes into focus as the stay-at-home half of each couple discovers the attraction each has for the other.
But the beauty of this film comes more from what is left out than what is put in. The dialogue is sparse, and the acting is elegantly austere. The faces of the unfaithful spouses aren't shown at all during the film, and the film's main conflict comes not when Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan discover they are being cheated on but when they fail to react the way most would expect.
Add to that unusual camera angles that at times pull the viewer into the scene and a haunting soundtrack guaranteed to stay in mind hours after the end of the film. The final result is a film that feels like a blend between an old classic and a modern masterwork, a recipe for great entertainment.
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on March 21, 2003
In the Mood for Love is such a charm despite a very simple plot. The year was 1962. Chow Mo Wan, a newspaper editor, recently moved into a dwelling populated by Shanghai immigrants with his wife. Through casual and accidental encounters Chow exchanged pleasantry with So Lai Jun (Mrs. Chan) who later found out about her husband's affair with Chow's wife. Heartbroken and devastated of the cruel truth, Chow buried himself in his job while So indulged in nightly movie screening. They began to let down the guard for one another and spent time during the mahjong sessions of their landlords. The characters forced themselves to abide by inveterate conventions and cultural morale that forbid an affair to become fruition. ...
Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung as usual deliver an impeccable performance in this 2001 Wong Kar-Wai release. Leung portraited a man who is unsatisfied about his marriage and denied his spouse's infidelity. Cheung seizes the empathy of her character who is accustomed to hush about reason for his husband's frequent absence. Maggie Cheung is elegant and charming in this movie. Not to mention the dazzling wardrobe she wears consistently over the entire movie. Her leg movements are captured in slow motion. Her arms dangling with the thermos meant for the late-night porridge order-to-go from the street vendor.
The movie is shot through a minimalist scope, that is, message is conveyed through very succinct scripts and imagery full of lush colors and meticulously chosen soundtracks. The film is shot in a very stealthy manner; it is as if a pin camera being fastened on the wall of the apartment. Conversations between Leung and Cheung are shot in an eavesdropping manner. The director seeks to de-emphasize other characters in order to focus on Leung and Cheung. Their spouse, respectively, always have their back facing the camera. Their performances are conducted by voices. The gaffer has done an excellent job adjusting the hues of light which is relatively dim throughout.
As a native of Hong Kong (born in mid-70s) who never witnessed the city in glory 60s, In the Move for Love has done me a favor in reminiscence. Wong Kar Wai makes sure everything is done just like when it was the 60s. Yes, even the restaurant menu to which Leung and Cheung skimmed through briefly. It was a green piece of cardboard decorated with some coconut tree clip art. Menu with such heavy Malaysian touch can still be found at local cafés that serve a fusion menu of Malaysian spices and sirloin steaks. Napkins are folded diamond-shaped like paper planes and kept at the far end of the booth. Leung and Cheung sip coffee from flimsy green chinaware cups that hold maybe three gulps. The green vinyl blinds hang unevenly at the office windows. The rotary phone. The subleased rooms where newly-wed couples rent and the kitchen with whom they share with their landlords. The white-collared wardrobe worn by housemaids. These are all the epitomes of lives in the 60s, in Hong Kong. Some find this mmovie a little slow-paced. I savor the manner in which the film is made. I savor all the details, the choice of colors and the tiptoeing scores in the film. 4.6 stars...
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on May 18, 2002
"In the Mood for Love" is simply one of the most beautiful films of the last several years. I cannot praise this film enough - the plot is at once simple and complex, the characters are both real and heartfelt, and the images are powerful and elegant. There really are so many positive things to say about this film, I'll try and hit the highlights for you.
The acting is superb - both Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung give impeccable performances filled with subtle emotion. They radiate a quietly powerful intensity that is so lacking is a great number of film stars today.
The story moves in ways both expected and surprising. The pacing is wonderful as the story unfold slowly before you. They're none of the lighting fast cuts and manic pacing of most films. It's a slower film for a patient audience willing to wait for their just rewards. The overall design of the film with the use of color and wardrobe stunned me with it's rich simplicity. The same can be said of the photography - rich with nuance (the way the shots are framed is remarkable) and feeling.
With "In the Mood for Love" Wong Kar-Wai has become one of the most skilled directors of our time with this film, proving that "Happy Together" (another brilliant film) wasn't a fluke. The Criterion Collection edition of the film is a two disc set that has an astonishing number of extras. After watching the film once, I watched the extras - then immediately watched the film again with a fresh eye to see how the entire thing was put together. I was truly impressed.
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on June 7, 2002
Perfection in cinema is an almost impossible goal to achieve. Mostly because spectators have varying taste and perspectives. But you can't help but feel that Wong Kar-Wai's "In the Mood for Love" is anything short of perfection. The imagery with its lush colors and breathtaking movements is enough to elevate this film. The simple, yet somewhat complicated tale is both heartfelt and authentic. And the performances by Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung are a marvel. But it's none of these that really makes this film, it's rather the manner that Kar-Wai so magically molds all these factors to set a mood that I have never felt before while watching a movie. In all honesty, I'm really not too fond of "forbidden love" movies, but this film really startled me.
Ironically, "In the Mood for Love" feels nothing like a Wong Kar-Wai film. It's a very slow moving film which uses lots of fades and dissolves. The Criterion edition of this film is probably the best dvd package I've seen to date. There are just so many extras on it, it's hard to believe. Deleted scenes, interviews, and promotional material, are just a few of the extras. The way Kar-Wai shoots his films (without a script) also adds to the suprise of picture. You see in the extras how much different the original concept was for "In the Mood for Love." There is also an alternate ending that seems very plain, but at the same time very heartbreaking.
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on September 25, 2002
Chow Mo-Wan played by Tony Leung and his wife move into their apartment on the same day that Mrs. Chan played by Maggie Cheung and her husband move into the apartment next door. At first their relationship consists of passing pleasantries and simple mahjong games with the neighbors but soon a sneaking suspicion bubbles its way to the surface. The increasing absence of their respective spouses arrives at the same time that Chow sees his wife carrying the same handbag as Mrs. Chan. Mrs. Chan, in turn, notices that her husband sports a tie similar to that worn by Chow. The two begin a secret friendship, and soon discover their desire turning from revenge to genuine passion.
This movie is simply amazing...i can not believe Wong Kar Wai makes such good movies...Wong Jing and rest of the HK pack should learn some from him and the beautiful cinematography by Christopher Doyle..mmm mmm mmm thumbs up. Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung turn in performances that will leave you in awe. Direction, Music, technique, etc. ALL THUMBS UP
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on June 6, 2002
This is an excellent film about betrayal and the love that emerges from it. Mr. Chow and his wife move into a room beside Mrs. Chan and her husband. Soon Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan discover that their spouses are having an affair. Mutual commiseration developes into a guarded love veiled in trepidation. Not since L'Avventura have I seen a movie so beautifully shot, and Maggie Cheung gives a performance that rivals Maria Falconetti's in the Passion of Joan of Arc.
In the packaging there is a comment from the director that they did have troubles with the censors. In a couple of places in the film the information seems incomplete so it would seem that some scenes may have been omitted or shortened. Someone who has more background on the film would know for certain.
All in all though a film that you will enjoy viewing after viewing.
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on March 26, 2004
Simply put, it is one of the more ravishingly beautiful films ever made! Every now and then, a director and his collaborators are so in-tune with each other, so opperating at the height of their powers, that as a viewer watching it, you are aware of watching greatness yet an air of disbelief pervades. Such feelings you get with (to name a few flawless masterpieces) Tarkovsky's ANDREI RUBLEV, Bergman's CRIES & WHISPERS, Fellini's LA DOLCE VITA, Lee's DO THE RIGHT THING, Scorsese's TAXI DRIVER, and Hitchcock's VERTIGO. All of the aforementioned films are flawless works which use everything the cinema can do...such films are perfect; IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE is such a film. It is a masterpiece and a must own!
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