AlexDavies’s review published on Letterboxd:
“We won’t be like them ~ Feelings can creep up just like that. I thought I was in control.”
In the Mood for Love is of pure taste. Simple humanistic romanticism streamlining our most inner self and thoughts, fueled and cloaked by cinemas and love's elliptical nature, a sensory overload sensuously steaming in the tightly packed streets and hallways of Hong Kong. The only things in life that you know are absolute are the things you see and believe, when you stare into someone’s eyes, a lovers eye, what do you truly comprehend? Love is a wandering and muted journey sometimes. Most people haven’t figured themselves out yet, can you understand, feel and hear everything that’s unsaid? Can you concede to the tangles of life that have brought you to such lows? Make a change. You can’t change the past or anticipate the future so go forward with the ambition for more, because it’s almost always right within your grasp. Still do you do what was done to you? It would be so easy to lose yourself in those moments, enact on impulse and revenge because of a partners affairs. What would you do?
The tension between Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow is hyper sexual, the delicate food, the gestures, its almost as if they are sexually active, but alas the desires are only ever enticed, never erupting in full flare. And that’s the genius here. The faces of the cheaters are never shown, there unwarranted, as it would disintegrate the illusion Wong Kar-Wai is trying to create. The deepest of intimacy should be extremely personal, shared with two people almost struggling to find that love again. Its quite sad you never really get to know our leads though, ever a guest to the euphoria and wasteland of longings itch. However, the sense that a spoiled relationship will never last looms in the background as forewarning in a certain way to the despair of this new relationship coming to a halt.
The wavelength the film works on is bountifully sweeping, the things you see and feel when watching In the Mood for Love are so close and in your face it sanctions such statements as being a film that makes you feel like you are there. Smoked filled rooms, rain steeped nights, noodle stall conversations, and slow passes and glances through dusky dark stairways where time is spatially restless, almost eager to burst into frame, fill in the emptiness with love’s urges of melancholy.
The camera moves with unequivocal beauty, softly precise, yet with the coolest no shits given attitude. The cinematography and use of color are richly imbued, artistically obscuring in every way. The clothes are beautiful and people in them are as well formed as can be, as most of Wong Kar-Wai’s films. The soundtrack is fittingly perfect, amazing Spanish Nat King Cole to gorgeous Chinese melodies. The acting from Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung is an astonishingly subtle breeze of emotions. The restraint is sexual to say the least, but sometimes that pleasure is vaguely blurred and hard to see. The way the duo moves around light, their shadows casting, and camera slowing is mood intoxicatingly elemental and spirit inducing.
A binding loop, being drawn into the same web of lies their spouses were sucked into. That visual contrast showcases itself in tandem with the story grandly, in line with fate’s fiery and tender sides. In the Mood for Love is cinematic transience, and stylistically a fever of a force. I am in a new kind of awe of its importance to film, and to me.