I ended up watching this movie twice in short succession to prep for a podcast recording. This turned out to be the right choice as it effectively doubled my appreciation for the film; every visual pattern, every subtle cue of dialogue, every delicate and luscious composition comes in sharper relief once you know exactly what to look for. And it does so without compromising the elliptical, sensuous storytelling texture of the film.
In the Mood for Love is a movie about the ache for romance and connection — slow-simmering longing is its most palpable emotion. But this is also a clever film brimming with ironies and character contradictions. The fibers of love are frayed and severing due to a culture too cramped and too dependent upon stale social norms. Everything is a business transaction and arrangement; food, friendship, love, etc.
The leads are excellent and two of the most beautiful actors I’ve seen in a motion picture. Their ever-present formality lends them an elegance that only amplifies the beauty and magnifies the small gestures of intimacy.
What words can do the movies’ visuals justice? The colors are so rich and evocative, swelling and melding and burning a hole in your soul. Some of the interior shots are so boxed in and claustrophobic that you can physically feel the emotional burden on Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow.
The film’s final act seems hell-bent on wrecking your heart, the near misses and lost connections so aggravating and manipulative, but also so effective.
It’s a masterpiece through and through. It’s maybe not the greatest individual film of the 21st century as Sight and Sound or They Shoot Pictures would have you believe… but then again…
Masterpiece: Tour De Good (8/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.