In the Mood for Love (2000) starring Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Ping Lam Siu, Rebecca Pan, Kelly Lai Chen, Man-Lei Chan directed by Kar Wai Wong Movie Review

In the Mood for Love (2000)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Maggie Cheung as Mrs. Chan in In the Mood for Love (2000)

A Wong Affair

In my quest to expand my cinematic tastes and the simple fact I like foreign movies I find myself reviewing "In the Mood for Love" a piece of Hong Kong cinema by Kar Wai Wong. Now this is a movie which most certainly isn't for your average mainstream fan as it is slow going, arty and to be frank doesn't have a great deal of story. But it is also one heck of a beautiful movie, gorgeous on the eye with a retro 1960s styling embellished by what to me feels like an Italian Romantic influence with two absolutely charming performances. It left me feeling split because visually I found "In the Mood for Love" captivating, story wise it was simple yet beautiful but because it is slow going it is also hard work.

News paper Editor Mr. Chow (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and his wife move into a new room on the same day as attractive secretary Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung) and her husband move next door. With Mr. Chan often away on business and Mrs. Chow often away visiting family Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan become friends and it is during this time that they discover that their spouses are having an affair with each other. As they struggle to deal with the fact their partners are cheating on them they consider if they should do the same.

Tony Leung Chiu Wai as Mr. Chow in In the Mood for Love (2000)

"In the Mood for Love" is a simple and beautiful story of two people who fall for each other via the unusual circumstance that their partners are cheating on them. But what makes this beautiful is that they both have feelings for each other but both say they shouldn't have an affair because it would make them as bad as their spouses. So we watch as they have secret rendezvous and basically hide their friendship from everyone as if they were lovers whilst both dealing with that secretly each loves the other and wants to sleep with them but daren't say it. That is it, it is that simple but it is so beautiful that you feel for both Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan because there feelings for each other feel so real.

And then you have the styling which is this beautiful 60s retro with flourishes of Italian romanticism and with a soundtrack which emphasises this. It is wonderful and whilst there are times when director Kar Wai Wong over indulges on the slow motion it doesn't stop you from being drawn into every single scene. It even feels like Kar Wai Wong has got hold of some vintage film stock because the tonal quality makes it feel like I am watching a much older movie than one made in 2000.

Plus the acting, now I am not up on my Asian cinema at all but Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu Wai are brilliant. They make their characters feel real so real that you get a real sense of chemistry between them and a struggle to contain it as their characters fight their inner feelings with what they have stated would be morally wrong.

But I do have a problem and unfortunately "In the Mood for Love" is slow going and at times it becomes hard work. It is when it goes from being beautiful to being arty is where it goes wrong for me because scenes which almost seem frozen with just smoke rising from a cigarette look good but go on too long for me.

What this all boils down to is that if you like foreign cinema "In the Mood for Love" is well worth a watch because it has this beautiful retro feel to it and a simple but beautiful love story. But it is a movie which is at times hard work because it is slow going and it slightly spoils it.