Missing the Junk-boat
In the Mood for Love
Review by Ross Anthony

A splendidly careful, setup gives way to a less than interesting movie. Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow move into adjacent apartments on the same day. She, elegant, In the Mood for Lovehe, slick and very polite. Their spouses are so often off on business trips that the director chooses to show only the backs of their heads during their limited screen time. It's a nice touch, perhaps hinting at the "face" they'll be loosing later when we all discover the affair they've been having.

That leaves Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan much time alone. Will they behave as their disloyal spouses? Or will personal decency or social worries get in the way of their uncertain longings? Be prepared for a film full of very subtle, delicate, slow-paced flirting.

The beauty and elegance of these two leads contrasts gorgeously against the chipped paint and rough textured walls of the apartment building they share. A warm sense of neighborly home seasons a crowded dinner sequence in which the landlords and tenants enjoy a meal. Suddenly the film speed drops as a western string section plucks a pizzicato baseline to a sultry and sensual melody listlessly exhaling as a tightly wound bow gently strokes aching strings on the single long black neck of some expressive violin. They're only eating noodles - but it's simply sexy, simply masterful cinematography.

From there, the film has little more to offer as it progresses. In fact, the slow-mo/violin exercise becomes a repeated motif. Unfortunately, the third and fourth reprise of this initially luscious effect, become comical, the following reprises - torturous, and the last - nauseous.

Cheung and Leung are suave and captivating, but they're tedious game of subtle approach and retreat provides very little entertainment for the filmgoer. This is the bulk of the movie, until it wraps up with several folds in time and location, but no real climax or definition.

Juicy details, like changes in ties and lipstick on a cigarette grace the screen, (oh, and a wonderful confrontation rehearsal moment) but like stars in the night sky ... they are not enough to light it up. Additionally, their positive effects are countered by some other camera experimentation such as strobe and a few brief segments of quick cuts, which add nothing, and in fact, blemish an otherwise visually smooth presentation.

  • In the Mood for Love. Copyright © 2001. Rated PG
  • Starring Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Maggie Cheung Man-yuk.
  • Written, directed, produced by Wong Kar-wai at USA/Paradis/Jet Tone.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:07:52 PDT