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4.2 out of 5 stars56
4.2 out of 5 stars
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 2003
Here is a film that fills all your senses to saturation point, that takes as it's cue the idea that each minute detail in a moment carries equal weight and hat some people do rise above the mundane in their search for love.
Every frame of this film is lovingly prepared and the screen bursts with the vibrancy of its colours whilst keeping the protagonists in an emotional dead calm, where they cannot quite overcome their own sensibilities. Some may indeed find the film slow, perhaps indulgent. But that is to miss the point - when one falls in love on savours every moment, every feeling. Each resonates in our minds and amplifies in our heart to form a new, more powerful memory. When those feelings cannot be acted upon, then life becomes a secret trade in dreams and whispers.
Chow (Tony Leung, as great a presence as Gregory Peck on the screen) and Su Li-zhen (the effortlessly graceful Maggie Cheung)are neighbours in a Hong Kong tenament block. Both are married to spouses we never fully see, just hear in conversations or phone calls. Both appear slightly isolated from their place in the world. Chow dreams of writing kung-fu series for a living whilst Su waits to become a mother. Through a series of quilted scenes (one of the joys of the movie is how scenes are repeated, refracted, revisited and we are never quite sure of the timeline of the story) we learn, just before the characters themselves do, that their spouses are infact having an affair. They are drawn to each other not so much by this but by the loneliness of their spouses' absences. Converstaions are hesistant, filled with silences. The camera prowls around,viewing them from a slightly greater distance than normal. Often half the frame is obscured in the tenament by a door, a desk or a body. We are like the child in Henry James's 'What Maisie Knew', slowly putting together the motion of their romance in our own mind. It is remarkable cinema; the editing only enhances our slight confusion and requires us always to double check our understanding. Kar-wai Wong, together with his cinemaphotographer, takes us ever closer to these people.
Everything about this film is first class; the script is a marvel of concise storytelling and the acting would surely be lauded if it came from two Hollywood stars. The ending is in someways an enigma - but if you like Kieslowski or just great romantic film making you'll find this a film you can wallow in over and over again.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on 8 July 2001
In The Mood For Love is a film of such outstanding quality that it is difficult to know how to adequately describe it. In terms of cinematography, it is faultless, with the composition of each shot apparently considered equally as fine art. Each scene is constructed with an aesthetic so perfect as to be almost wounding. Having said that, this is a beautifully human film and visual impact is never allowed to overwhelm the narrative. The two principle characters are played with a subtlety and compassion echoed by and understood by the camera.
The alchemy of the achievement is completed by a beautiful soundtrack in which the setting resonates and that keeps the audience in touch with and enchanted by the humanity and tenderness expressed by the two protagonists. Overall the experience is breathtaking. It is hard to think of a better example of the art of filmmaking. A jewel. Absolutely wonderful.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2001
The only word for "In the Mood for Love" is sumptuous. The film is set in 1960s Hong Kong and its exquisite cinematography captures the look and feel of the era perfectly - from the steam of the Chinese noodle vendors and formica furniture of the main characters' appartments to the perfect copies of American haistyles and Twiggy-style dresses sported by Maggie Cheung. But there's also a deep sadness to the film, and a sheer electricity between the lead 'couple' that will leave you spellbound - the sexual tension between the two is palpable. It's sensual, tense and engaging stuff: see it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 1 April 2008
This is surely one of THE most gorgeous and beautiful films of all time.
A heart pulling love story of two strangers brought together by their respective partner's infidelities, their loneliness radiate toward you and you'd feel a great pull of sympathy. Tony Leung is an actor I have admired for a long, long time and feel that he will be regarded as one of the great Asian actors. The softness he brings and the subtle sense of melancholy to all his actions is astounding. Maggie Cheung matches Leung's performance, her elegancy and beauty is beyond expression.

The story is a perfect sentiment of the sting of unrequited love, emotions and feelings The notion of fidelity portrayed in the film seems outdated today, but it is exactly the main characters' adherence to that notion which makes the entire story so touchingly tragic, as they refer to their respective spouses, "not be like them" whilst tackling their own desires.

Everything, the setting, the make-up, the clothes, the dialogue, the light, and (first of all) the soundtrack, is just incredibly beautiful. You can't take your eyes off the screen

The magic in the movie is not that it is a constant thrill-a-minute ride, it's in the feeling it gives. After I saw this movie for the first time, I was left feeling touched like I couldn't imagine a movie to do so. It left me longing for something.

Wong Kar-Wai is a favourite of mine and this is his best film, and my favourite film. I recommend this film to anyone and everyone - please give it 90 minutes of your life - it will stay with you for much longer than that. See 2046, Chungking Express and Happy Together for more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 November 2007
This film is a teasing allegory of loneliness and longing. Here is a film without sex, or even kissing -- and it is no doubt one of the sexiest and definitely the most thought-provoking and psychological romance I have seen for a while. In addition to this Maggie Cheung can really sport some beautiful dresses through this film.

Telling the story of two people who coincidentally, live in the same apartment, and are a door away from each other. The film, like and unlike Random Hearts, is about how two people come together via the affair of their two lovers. Only once they receive this news, they take the time to think about the consequences of an affair, and each other's feelings towards having just broken-up -- and whether or not the two people are willing enough to fall back in love.

What's terrific about the film is the way director Wong Kar-Wai, presents each character's way of dealing with loneliness. Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung are both fantastic and Christopher Doyle is simply the best cinematographer in the business watch Temptress Moon (perhaps my favorite ever from him) for more evidence that what I say is true. With Maggie Cheung's character, he'll show her, in a repeated montage: leaving work, going home, watching her neighbors gamble, head to the noodle shop, leave the noodle shop, and bump into her attractive age-equal, played by Tony Leung. This is a clever, if not subtle and knowing technique to present loneliness. For it is when you are alone, when you find yourself falling into a loop. There are many, many close-ups in this movie, I really think this gives a claustrophobic atmosphere to their romance.

This comes as no surprise since the movie does take place in Hong Kong and we get the impression that this is a place where everything is cramped and everyone knows everything about everybody else. It seems like they give as much concern to seeing each other as they are to keeping their relationship within the confines of social standards as well. As I said before there is nothing explicit. It is all percolating under the surface. This lends itself to the feeling that the chaos of the world outside is mirrored by the chaos of their own hidden emotions on the inside. This film was forward to me by my friends who adores Asian cinema in return I will highly recommend this to you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2010
This film fills your aural and visual senses and then puts sledgehammer to your heart. A masterpiece of betrayal, longing and unrequited love, the film is also nostalgic, taking place in the Hong Kong of the early sixties and which might as well have been the middle ages given how fast that city changes. The love story is true and hits anyone who has loved and lost in the gut.

The cinematography is breathtaking and is Christopher Doyle's crowning achievement, enhancing the relationship between the two leads with colour and imagery that adds to the story. The performance by the two leads is excellent and all of the other departments such as set design, costumes and music only add to the cocktail.

I urge one and all to see this timeless film and to give oneself to it unreservedly. You will not regret it. I watch this film once every year and it feels just right that I do.

As a companion to this film also try 'Monsoon Wedding' which, in my opinion, is a counterpart and a joyous slice of life in modern India despite one element within that is anything but. In fact, watch both in one long evening of cinema at home with your closest this summer!

If you like this film, get a copy of both the 2 disc UK edition as well as the Criterion Region 1 edition from the USA as both have different extras which all make the experience even more satisfying. The Criterion is more expensive but ultimately worth it as the extras are substantial, and the UK edition is inexpensive and great value for money.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2008
A pair of cuckolded spouses find each other in this inventive and beautifully shot, romantic drama.

There is not a frame wasted here. The back drop is a rather grimy yet realistic 1960's inner-city setting. That said, every aspect has be meticulously and painstakingly considered to the very last detail. Not least Maggie Cheung's stunning wardrobe which is only enhanced by the sheer elegance and beauty of the woman.

The plot and characterisations are sensitively and expertly handled and offset by a handful of Nat King Cole records (In Spanish) which add perfectly to the mood of the piece.

On top of all this, where the film could have been a pretentious and over blown, it is actually highly accessible and unlabored; and very easy to fall in love with.

A modern masterpiece!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 25 January 2011
This was good film marred by the subtitles at times being impossible to read as they were washed out by the background colours. For example: white subtitles over a character wearing a white shirt made reading them impossible and thus some chunks of dialogue utterly lost. Otherwise a good film.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2007
In The Mood For Love is a wonderful romance film directed by the acclaimed Wong Kar-Wai. The main characters - Chow and Li-zhen, are neighbours having moved to their apartments on the same day. Both come to realise that their respective spouses (whom you never see the faces of) are having an affair and this draws them together along with a shared interest in reading/writing martial arts stories. They soon become attracted to each other but face the dilemma of becoming no better than their cheating partners if they too start an intimate relationship together.

I first came across this film after having seen (and loved!) Hero as the two actors portraying the lovers Broken Sword and Flying Snow in that film - Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung - are the main characters in this, and I was particularly impressed by their acting ability so made the purchase and was very impressed with this film too. The acting comes over as being very natural but the main area that this film stands out is in the way it has been directed. It has been filmed as a work of art - not just to tell a story but to frame a mood. Scenes full of dialogue are interspersed with slow-mo scenes of movement with musical accompaniment - the musical refrain being repeated at each of these segments. My wife found this quite irritating but I felt that it creates a style all it's own and portrays the longing of the characters just as powerfully as any speech. Not then a film for everyone - but I would much rather watch a film beautifully crafted like this than any Hugh Grant-type sloppy rubbish! A critically acclaimed Cannes winner - simply wonderful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 August 2010
In my opinion this film is a definite must for all cinema lovers and is in my opinion Kar-Wai's most audience friendly film. Set in the Hong Kong in the 60's, and with a great backdrop and costumes to match, the plot follows two people in quite lonely, loveless marriages who seek solace in one another after a troubling discovery. Both lead performances, by Kar Wai regulars Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung, are lovely and subtle and anchor what is basically a simple story. Anyone looking for anything action-packed may be disappointed, as Kar-Wai doesn't even feel the need to introduce any broad political or social subplots or references in order to justify the time-setting, instead allowing it to be a love story, which is his stock and trade after all. However, ultimately what catapults this film into special territory is the amazing cinematography, which is a feature of all Kar-Wai's collaborations with Christopher Doyle but arguably at its best here. As I said a must have if you enjoy good films.
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