Thursday, March 01, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—In the Mood for Love (2000) ****

PG, 98 min.
Director/Writer: Wong Kar Wai
Starring: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung

Wong Kar Wai’s “In the Mood for Love” is elegance itself. Rarely has such a beautiful movie been photographed. Yet its beauty is contained to the intimate relationship of it’s two main characters, a man and a woman who are neighbors and come to the conclusion that their spouses are having an affair. This sends them on their own timid affair that observes careful measure and elegant dresses.

My wife was in awe of the dresses worn by Maggie Cheung here. They were all distinctly in the same style, all incredibly unique. Cinematic style is really what Wong is creating here. His story of adultery is not one that hasn’t been told before, but it has never been told in this particular way.

From the costume design to the music design, everything experienced in this lover’s masterpiece is carefully calculated to elicit the emotional responses that so oft accompany both lust and love. I was surprised to learn that this movie is rated ‘PG’, considering its adulterous subject matter; but it doesn’t earn any more severe a rating than that. As far as the audience can tell, the lovers never consummate their love. In many ways their dance is like a game, they even repeat and rehearse some of their exchanges so they will get them right at the time they are actualized.

This gentle, moving movie captures a unique love affair on screen. It is a delight to behold, if not without frustration. My wife felt that the title “In the Mood for Love” was inappropriate because the movie wasn’t happy enough to earn it. Perhaps because the lovers’ desires are never realized it leaves you in the mood, rather than spent.

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