In the Mood for Love ★★★★

Feelings can creep up just like that.

My final Filmstruck movie. Felt as though I couldn't have picked something better to top it all off if I tried. This has been a fantastic streaming service, one I most certainly underutilized. Like all good things turned to dust, I never came to fully appreciate it until it was slipping away. I'll miss it, and I know many around the world will as well. It'll live on through the Criterion Channel coming in spring of next year. I shall be eagerly awaiting the day that arrives.

As for In the Mood for Love itself, very, very good. Four movies into his filmography, and Wong Kar-Wai further shows his complete control over the craft of cinema. Stunning visual landscapes filled with compelling characters. The cinematography from Christopher Doyle is still to die for. You leave this wishing all films could have this much color and this strong of an atmosphere. Or, you at least feel that if you aren't overwhelmed by the pure melancholia. I might go out on a limb and call this the most directly somber movie I've seen from Wai. (Fallen Angels is super somber, and melancholy kinda is the name of his game, so take that with a grain of salt.)

I say it because this is the first of his I've seen that left me completely bummed out when the credits rolled. Not an entirely hopeless film. Many moments of the movie, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential, are warm and full of life. The music is great, the repeated theme throughout the film bringing a lot to every scene it's used in. The two leads are fantastic with giving nuanced performances. Rarely do we see full outbursts of strong emotions. Most everything is coming out slowly from under the seams. Keep in mind that's not a gripe at all. That lends to its power for me.

The romance within In the Mood for Love is complex, and simultaneously overtly cinematic and grounded in reality. Touches and glances feel real, these small moments focused on closely. It does seem as though when reflecting back on strong relationships that had a falling out, it's these in the moment minuscule occurrences that end up having the most prevalence. It'll be hard for anyone watching this movie not to think back to romantic experiences of their own. Flashes of smiles and embraces, heartbeats and heartbreak.

Wong Kar-Wai, perhaps alongside Stanley Kubrick, is the ultimate humanist director. He is the champion of the human spirit, and portrays it in all of its complexities. The good and the bad. The greatest gift Filmstruck ever gave me was helping introduce me to the work of Wai. and I'll be eternally grateful to it. Though it's not my favorite of his movies, I wholly understand why In the Mood for Love is often considered his greatest work. It's his most straightforward, simplistic in its premise yet deeply complicated in all the ways it can make you feel. If you can find a way to see this now that Filmstruck is about to be kaput, absolutely give this a watch. It's a poem. Life is a moody, lovely poem.

8.5/10

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