In The Mood For Love
Screening: 3 October 2005
Hong Kong/France/Thailand 2000
SynopsisLove affairs rarely play out as lushly and intensely as this, Wong Kar-wai's masterpiece, which is arguably one of the most stunning films ever made. Privileging restraint over indulgence, he knows that only a glance or an embrace is necessary to convey both the ecstasy and wretchedness of being in love. While his early work displayed a dazzling array of techniques in order to conjure up life in the hubbub of Hong Kong's streets, In the Mood for Love signalled a shift in gear, from a world teeming with pop culture references towards an elegant and more emotionally resonant form of film-making.
The distinctive style is still there, aided in no small part by his regular cinematographer Chris Doyle and editor William Chang, as is Kar-wai's innovative use of music. Like Martin Scorsese, he employs rhythm and sound not as an accompaniment to a film, but as the embellishment of theme, mood and characterisation. But gone are pop songs, replaced by the compositions of Michael Galasso and Shigeru Umebayashi, whose opulent 'Yumeiji's Theme' undulates throughout the film.
And finally, there is Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung (who recently starred opposite each other in Hero), the most beautiful pairing since Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale lit up the screen - raising temperatures in movie houses all over the world - in Luchino Visconti's The Leopard. Their relationship may have taken three years to craft - a long shoot by any standards - but that slow burn happily results for the audience in one of the most tortuously beguiling relationships in the history of cinema.
* * * * * *
Film factsIn the Mood for Love had two working titles, Beijing Summer and Flower Like Years. Director Wong Kar-wai found the eventual English title whilst listening to a song on a Brian Ferry CD with a similar title, 'I'm in the mood for love.' It is a cover of a 1930s song with the same title.
In room 2046, Chow Mo-wan is not wearing a tie when we first see him, but he is a moment later when he has moved across the room to join Su Li-zhen Chan at the mirror. And he always wears a tie - except in this one shot.
As Su Li-zhen Chan says: You notice things if you pay attention.
'Leung, who won the Best Actor prize at Cannes, and Cheung, who took home a Taiwanese Oscar, give performances of shimmering glamour and grace '
Filming was shifted from Beijing to Macao after Chinese authorities demanded to see the completed script. The director never uses scripts.
Maggie Cheung wears a different cheong-san in each scene. There were 46 dresses in all, though not all made it to the final cut.
The number of the hotel room where Chow stays is 2046. This is the title of Wong Kar-wai's next feature film.
'...one of the subtlest, most affecting movies to come out of Hong Kong.'
Maggie Cheung's hair and make-up took five hours a day.