Set in Hong Kong in 1962, Chow Mo-Wan (Tony Leung), a newspaper editor, and Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung), a secretary, move into an apartment building on the same day. Incidentally, their respective spouses aren’t there to help with the moving, as both are often away for work. The two lonely neighbors find themselves spending more time together in their absence, but soon discover that their mates are actually having an affair with each other. Chow and Su find comfort in their growing friendship upon their revelation, resolving not to be like their unfaithful spouses.
Feelings can creep up just like that. I thought I was in control.
It was a nice coincidence that In the Mood for Love was the last film I needed to check off my 2016 Blind Spots list. I had just come home from seeing Barry Jenkins’ beautiful film Moonlight, and after watching a video of the director discussing how Wong Kar-wai inspired him, I knew it was finally time to watch this film. After watching In the Mood for Love, I could really see how Jenkins was influenced by Wong’s filmmaking style, and the two films made for a great double feature in that sense.
Onto the film itself, which may be my favorite discovery from my 2016 Blind Spots list. While I was under the impression that this would be a film about some sweeping love affair, it’s actually much more restrained, and instead takes a delicate look at companionship, shared between two neighbors often abandoned by their spouses. There are some lingering feelings between Chow and Su, perhaps because of the common ground they share in their situation, but their civility outweighs possible desires, not wanting to betray their mates despite circumstances. It’s a refreshing look at two people finding solace in each other’s company without falling into any predictable tropes. As the title suggests, this film is much more about mood and the smaller details than it is about intricate plotting. More importance is placed on seemingly small moments like the touch of a hand or a quick glance, making for a surprisingly effective, emotional movie-watching experience.
Like every film on my Blind Spots list, In the Mood for Love was a movie I was eager to see because of its great reputation. While a couple of films on my list didn’t quite meet my expectations, this one exceeded them, and I’m glad I was able to end my 2016 Blind Spots series on such a great movie. Of the dozen discoveries I made for the series this year, I’d easily rate In the Mood for Love the highest.
In the Mood for Love (2000)
Directed by: Wong Kar-wai
Starring: Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung
Oscar Nominations: N/A
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