in Criterion Month

In the Mood for Love (2000)

I may not be able to write the best review for In The Mood for Love but I can write the worst. Listen, I’m tired, I’ve been cleaning and packing boxes all day… much like the actors of this film are packed into tight frames and tight drama. Eh? No? Well to hell with you because this is what you’re getting.

For an in depth, plot synopsis read Wikipedia. For the “John synopsis” look no further. In the Mood for Love is a film set in early 1960s Hong Kong where two beautiful people, Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung) and Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung) move in adjacent to each other in a building filled with older ladies that gossip a lot. These two lost souls are both miserable because they each have spouses who Brian Littrell of the Backstreet Boys might say are “playing games with their hearts.” The couple finds solace in a friendship that hovers around relationship territory but not quite because this movie is sad because it’s from not America.

Aside from the complex characters, a great deal of the film’s praise comes from its use of the camera. Every inch of the couple’s building is shot from compelling angles with overlapping objects and literal door frames used to build each shot. One of my favorite techniques is how the film jumps ahead days or weeks, yet will always shoot certain parts of the building from the same angle. This builds a sense of familiarity, just like real life, cuz real life sucks, just like how these people live sucky lives.

In the Mood for Love was a long time coming for director Wong Kar-wai. It took years for Wong to establish himself to make this film and even then production wasn’t easy. Wong worked with his two stars to write and develop the story as the film was shooting, which led to a filming schedule of over fifteen months! Wow. It’s amazing considering how organized and precise the film feels. Not to mention how lived in these characters feel. That’s the glory of collaboration.

I watched a great video by Nerdwriter on YouTube about the use of composition in this film. You should watch it. I would post a link but my MacBook is dying because my charger broke and I had to order a bootleg one off eBay. Now go watch this movie it’s sad but it’s worth it! #prayforJohnsmac