In the Mood for Love ★★★★½

Quizás, quizás, quizás. (Maybe, maybe, maybe)

Based on the name and film poster alone, one might be surprised to hear that this is a film not of consummated love, but unrequited love. In Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love, there is no attention given to the act of sex, merely the possibility of it. Chow Mo-Wan and Su Li-Zhen coincidentally move in with their spouses in the same apartment building. When their spouses seem to always be away at similar times, Chow and Su begin to suspect that their spouses are having an adulterous affair with one another. In the Mood For Love is less of a film about adulterers as it is about the lengths that people go to keep secrets from one another. Both main characters choose to remain committed to their values of fidelity, for fear of the social implications of actually following through on their emotions. Restrained, passionate, and melancholic, In the Mood For Love beautifully juxtaposes suppressed emotions and impetuousness through its lush palette of reds greens, and yellows.

The cinematography is consistent with the recurring theme of secrets, as often the characters are obscured behind objects in the foreground or framed in cramped hallways. We are not even given glimpses of the adulterous spouses' faces - any evidence of their affair is merely left to the viewer to speculate. As Chow and Su begin to contemplate how their spouses' affair unfolded, they role-play possible scenarios. Who made the first move? It becomes unclear at that moment whether the characters are speaking about themselves or their spouses. Though they refuse to become "that couple," the line between acting and reality becomes indistinct as they begin to develop feelings for each other.

Chow: Feelings can creep up just like that. I thought I was in control.

The power in In The Mood for Love lies in its pairing of visuals and soundtrack. The wistfulness and melancholy of Nat King Cole's "Aquellos Ojos Verdes" and "Quizás, Quizás, Quizás" highlights the significance of the fleeting exchanges between the main characters, hinting at romantic possibility. Little can be spoken between them, for fear of gossip and scandal, but ironically the actions of Chow and Su speak louder than words. Whether it is the way Su sashays along in her elegant dresses or furtive glances between the two, we become acutely aware of both characters' intentions, yet neither have the courage to confess them to one another.

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