Updated: Jul 7, 2022
They're in the mood for love, but it's not the right time or setting. They stare at each other with huge misty eyes full of desire and sweetness, and then they go home to sleep alone. Their lives have been tainted by adultery: his wife and her husband are having an affair.
"To do the same thing," they concur, "would imply that we are no better than they are." "Agree" is the essential word here. The truth is that they don’t agree.
It's only that neither of them has the bravery to disagree, and time is ticking away.
He wants to sleep with her, and she wants to sleep with him, but they are both constrained by the moral stance that they feel the other has adopted.
Wong Kar-"In Wai's the Mood for Love" conveys the melancholy of unsatisfied desire better than virtually any other film of the 2000s.
It's sensual and sad in equal measure.
Wong used sumptuous imagery, exquisite framing, and evocative slow-motion to depict both the beauty of falling in love unexpectedly and the shattered sensation of knowing it can never be realized.
Its gentle, delicate tone conceals a profound reservoir of love and suffering that only sometimes emerges among the countless graphic repeats, riffing on notions of adultery, heartache, and infatuation without a clear schema.
"In the Mood for Love" hinges on instinct and intuition to generate a sensitive emotion that is ultimately fleeting but provides the appearance of permanence. It's a story of love and how it lasts far longer in the brains of its subjects than anyone relationship ever can.
In the Mood for Love, is structured like memory, with euphoric moments overcoming the usual flow of time, maintained by desire and accessed when longing calls upon the experience.
The film is a chimeric vision set in Hong Kong around the 1960s, and it follows two neighbors who discover their spouses are having an affair and then consider a romance of their own.
The experience is perceptual, founded in consciousness and quieted sensual need, while the film does little more than repeat familiar gestures, emotions, locales, and musical patterns—an intangible plunge into the nimbus of emotion.
Wong's poetic imagery evokes action in the viewer's imagination, and what the filmmaker shows us is equally as important as what we believe happened in the sequences that aren't seen.
The fact that the film's would-be lovers never fulfill their feelings, at least not in the conventional style of cinematic depiction, supports Wong's emphasis on minimum narrative and time distortions in the picture, which may be described as a mood piece.
The film is physically lustful.
The scenes are saturated with the strong hues of film noir: reds, yellows, browns, and deep shadows.
One scene begins with merely a cigarette smoke coil and gradually unveils its characters.
The camera pans back and forth in the corridor outside the two flats, emphasizing not their proximity but the fact that there are two apartments, not one.
The unfaithful pair is left offscreen by Wong Kar-wai.
Their spouses may sin in Singapore, Tokyo, or a downtown love hotel, but they will never transgress on the screen of this film since their adultery is dull and conventional, but Chow and Su's modesty raises their love to a kind of sublime perfection.
Their lifestyles are as confining as their small lodgings.
They have more money than they need.
She rushes out of the office, still dressed for work, to a packed alley to buy noodles.
They occasionally cross paths on the dingy stairwell.
It frequently rains. Sometimes, they simply converse on the sidewalk.
Lovers don't pay attention to where they are or how often they reiterate themselves. In any case, it's comfort, not repetition. And no discussion is dull when you're holding back and communicating in code, since the empty spaces are filled with your wants.
In the Mood for Love ponders history and memory, leaving unsolved concerns concerning the documented and the experienced.
Wong had never previously and would never again create such a spell of sorrow and mystery over his audience, since his future films were flops in contrast, and his career has now entered a retrospective period.
The film's web of time, location, and emotion ensnare the viewer, causing an urgent need to untangle oneself from its sensory immersion.
At the same time, this is unusually opulent cinema, with Wong's mesmerizing and hypnotic use of form, breathtakingly nuanced and sorrowful performances, and the seductiveness of the plot leaving us in awe.
In the Mood for Love is an elaborate valentine from Wong that engages the cerebral and elemental in an experience that, like the relationship between Mo-wan and Li-Zhen, fills a lasting spot in our mind.
Author: Akash R. Ekka
Editor: Rachita Biswas