Film Review – In the mood for love
Wong Kar – wai’s “In the mood for love” is an extraordinary love story obstructed by faith, and societal views. The director has shown the element of despair intertwined with a bittersweet tale of unrequited love. What I found unique was the narrative structure, though it was in the present, it seemed that something else was happening too. After having watched the film closely one would notice the parallel stories running. At one time there are many scenes being talked about.
The setting of the film is considerably fascinating, where the mood of the narrative is reflected in the setting. The low-key lighting is used as a metaphor to signify the loneliness that Mr.Chow and Mrs. Chan go through without their respective spouses. Through frequent encounters in tight hallways, claustrophobic staircases and rain soaked alleyways do these two grow closer. The desolate setting of the place plays a major role in bringing them together. In addition to the setting, the kind of shots taken complemented to the film, tightly framed close ups convey a sense of personal encounters. Much of the action happens outside the frame, which leads to the viewers imagining what is happening on screen, creating an element of suspense. Throughout the film there were many low angled shots, where one would pay more attention to the setting and tone of the dialogues rather than the character itself. Moreover Wong has made use of physical barriers such a grills, windows, doors and walls to frame shots behind. It not only builds the suspense but also metaphorically portrays Mr. Chow and Mrs Chan being entangled in a state of denial and them unknowingly enacting the process of an affair. Towards the end of the film the wall is used to denote the separation in their lives as they sat in their own apartments, however they were still connected as they both leaned onto the same wall that was dividing them.
From the beginning of the film their respective spouses are mentioned, but the viewers have never really show them. I feel it is a part of enhancing ones suspense at the same time showing the viewer’s limited information. This too has been done with the help of cinematography. The shots of their backs are taken, which convey a sense of obscurity. Once a scene is over, parts of it are put to focus and blurred out only once it leaves an impact on the viewers. This way there is always some scene going on in the background with another scene that has already started.
Even without the days actually changing, the passage of time has been depicted well. With the transition in mood, feelings and actions one is able to notice time passing by. Similarly their affair and relationship grows through their daily routine of meeting everyday, having lunch together. The most noticeable aspect is the character in the film. The number of people in the first scene to as the film progresses to the last scene changes drastically. It seems like towards the end there is literally no one left, besides the sorrow and loneliness. Just like sentiments change and disappear people collapse and leave. This simple action too indicates how time is passing.
The mirror reflection shots are most remarkable where the director indirectly conveys to his audience of how Mr.Chow and Mrs. Chan are enacting their spouse’s affair. It is used as a mean to show duality through the use of mirrors and shadows. Moreover, the protagonists of the movie have conversations that attempt to reveal how their spouses met. In the process of enacting another affair they ultimately fall in love. They are seen conversing and behaving as if they are already a couple. Wong could have done this intentionally to show us the change in love and love stories.
A part of film often overlooked is the change in costumes. On a deeper level, the colour palette of the costumes worn. There is a consistence use of a monotonous as well as monochromatic colour palette. Very often, the only indication that time has passed is shown in the colour of Mrs. Chan’s outfits. She wears the same style mandarin outfits throughout the film. It is the change in colour from red to blue that serves as a sign for time having been passed. She wears dull, boring colours when she is lonely, however whenever she is with Mr. Chow she wears floral print, colourful dresses. Her costumes vary based on her mood and state of mind.Lastly, the dramatic music wraps up the entire film. The music plays a critical role in the story- telling of “In the mood for love”. It is the same music that plays when either of them are thinking of each other. It is the only moment when the two are thinking of the same thing. However it is the repetitive nature of the music highlights the importance their relationship.
The title of the film itself is ironic and a little vicious, “In the mood for love” where the two characters want to love desperately and be loved. In an attempt to re – enacting imaginary scenes and conversations that could have taken place they are trapped in the cycle of love and prove to be unfaithful. The title is contradicting to the plot of the movie but at the same time works well for one part of the movie.