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4.0 out of 5 stars
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4.0 out of 5 stars
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on 28 November 2016
It's taken me 16yrs to watch this film, and it was a treat. Reminds me of Lean's 'Brief Encounter', and is a masterpiece of cinema history. I urge you to see this and in my top 10.
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on 12 June 2017
beautiful film!
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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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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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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 4 October 2015
Sensational is really the word that springs to mind for this film. It is wrought out of the slenderest of plots, yet has such density in the way it is filmed that some very special quality is released through the celluloid. Wong Kar-Wai took 15 months to shoot it and was apparently very exacting about locations, reshooting scenes repeatedly in different places to get the precise effect he wanted. This has to do with the setting of Hong Kong in 1962, no doubt, but also the screen rapport of the two leads, Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung, who are both a kind of perfection. They play neighbours, each married, who discover that their partners are having an affair and perhaps give in to their own attraction as a result of this, but without going beyond very proper limits. The strength of their feelings is all too evident, but there is almost no physical contact - even less than in Brief Encounter. The box quotes the Daily Telegraph as saying it is like that film "remade by Kubrick and Scorsese", but other influences struck me more. It certainly has its Godard moments in the way Cheung is shot running up stairs and along corridors at one point, with a tremendous excitement cinematically in the double takes, and also in the slow-motion filming to expand the sense of the moment. This is particularly used when we see her walking through the street at night on the way to the noodle bar, the route on which their paths continually cross. Elegantly attired throughout in fitting dresses of the period in fabulous fabrics, Cheung truly glides through the film like a vision, and she has a marvellous voice as well ... Leung has a tenderness in his face that is quite special and makes him ideal for this role - there is something loving about his features that is a given. Fabrics and surfaces play a big part in the design of the film, which is impeccable, quite thrilling in its attention to period detail and composition within the frame. This is what made me think of Bonnard, because there are some highly unusual angles in the mainly interior shots, very like the French painter. The wallpapers are pretty amazing in themselves, one showing what looks like grapefruit segments all over. This is matched by a highly expressive sense of lighting, of filming through open doors and in confined spaces. But it was the wallpapers and the prominence of music, especially the songs - Nat King Cole in Spanish, among others - that put me in mind of Jacques Demy's vibrant musicals, always on the theme of love also. The dialogues are pure Ophuls in their exquisite contrivance, and at one point the camera does go back and forth through the wall, the very thing ascribed to Ophuls by Godard. And the squarely set up shots of Ozu seem present too ...

However what is most surprising is the way Wong Kar-Wai blends these elements into a style of complete originality; it actually feels like the medium reinvented. He does some amazing things with smoke, its complex shapes and evanescence being the perfect metaphor for the feelings on display. It is a film that seems to speak of a love for the cinema as much as any I can think of.
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on 14 June 2016
As a previous reviewer has point out, this edition doesn't have English subtitles. It is listed, but this needs to be made clearer. Perhaps the title should state that the subtitles are in German to prevent more people from buying this edition.
The film is excellent - just don't buy this edition unless you can understand Cantonese or German.
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on 18 June 2017
Beautiful cinematic will stay with you for many many many years - and those comments who said there were NO ENGLISH subtitles there clearly are!
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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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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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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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