Wong Kar-wai’s “In the mood for love” is a melodramatic subtle outburst of emotion and conflict maintaining elegant standards while touching themes popular and relatable to the audiences such as that suppression, vows, adulteration or extra marital relations. The movie shows light on the thin line between loyalty and infidelity and is almost a journey from one to the other. The tight frames in the film keep the characters and their emotions as the only focus of the film. Colour holds a very strong importance to the mood of the film as one notices the costumes of the characters as dull when they are apart and a tinge of brightness in shade when they are together marking their dispositions and intensity towards one another.
There is an elusive sense of tension that runs through out the film and several elements further intensify the atmosphere like the long empty corridors, window panes, focus on corners and loose furniture in the room. Emphasis on simple gestures and movements of little things like their hands on top of each other or their feet, all help intensify their emotion and feelings towards each other. Also, the sound and changing rhythm during the exchange of conversation or gesture between the couple elevates the passion and drama of the film. Since the film mainly focuses on the couple and their interaction it is difficult to estimate the passing of time other than the change of costume or the frequently occurring clock. Yet, the passage of time is extremely essential to understand in the film since the story works in different directions with each narrative independently speaking for itself and then altogether as a single course of pretention to reality. Chao and Chan being the central characters have three main narratives that run across the film, one being their individual relations with their spouses, the other is the pretentious game they play with each other enacting their relations with their spouses who are cheating on them with another and the third is their own advance of feelings for the one another. What I find most interesting about the film is that the protagonists meet and befriend each other to eradicate the situation of infidelity with their own spouses which ultimately leads them to the same place as they fall in love with each other while pretending and rehearsing to be their spouses. This irony, according to me is what makes the film thought provoking and an exhilarating watch. Some parts of the film seem to dawdle towards the middle but the scenes are crafted extremely intelligently making each scene significant contribution to the whole picture. Infact, the dawdling and stretching of a few scenes almost seem like a deliberate attempt to help spawn the emotions of longing and strong desire. The slow movement, extending the scenes in duration work as a metaphor for frozen time, occupied by the drifting smoke from the cigarette or a character walking in a dance-like manner. The camera angles at which this film is shot also contribute largely to the way the audience would interpret this film. The scenes transform in a way that manage to keep the tight and integral parts a peak, also adding to the suspicion and centralized attention of a viewer since only important elements and movements are brought into focus. Throughout the film there is a constant occurrence of mirrors which represent the duplicity of character and story, they make the audience question the deliberate drama as opposed to reality. The basic quality of a mirror as we know is to reflect irony which automatically relates this quality to the nature of the movie which basically revolves around the idea of reflection, where Chao and Chan enact or as one can say attempt to mirror their relations with their spouses and at the same time they are also reflecting the same story of infidelity that their spouses held at the beginning of the film. The use of mirrors also in some ways signifies the multiplicity which relates to the protagonists and their multiplicity of both personality and emotion as well as multiplicity of narratives that continue to be shown parallel to one another. It also enhances the obscure quality of space and feeling of claustrophobia.
Thus the mirrors play a substantial role in establishing the mood of the film. One could easily be fooled by the play rehearsals as being part of the reality and this perplexity really is the best part of the movie.
The theme of indulgence as opposed to the traditional repression is one of great value. It touches the hearts of several, of both opposing views. Whilst the movie ends at a point of lingering, a western perspective might be left bewildered at the extent of repression since the couple is shown to stay apart. However the film subtly says a lot more than just that. It opens a whole new range of though processes and “ifs and buts” while the end credits suddenly come on screen. It presents to you a series of stories or even just one, depending on the way you see it, but either way it closes with a question – a question every one may have a different answer to but yet neither right nor wrong. It is the end of the film but a beginning to a different perspective, not only towards love or infidelity but also an introspective journey questioning choices and decisions.