FILM REVIEW: IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE.
When I first thought about the movie after watching it, the thought crossed my mind that when someone first thinks of it, it’s a seemingly minor plot. The usual story of a man and woman that move into the same cramped apartment building. They slowly realize their particular partners are having an affair and this aids in them developing their own hesitant romance. This made me think of life’s fundamentals. It’s a film about so many emotions. The obvious being love; but also betrayal, loss, missed opportunities, memory, the cruelty of time and loneliness.
The thing that struck me the most about this movie was the immense beauty that radiates from it. It was almost like the beauty of the dynamic lead couple distracted you from the reality of the movie and the plot completely. For me beauty actually managed to be a theme for this movie. Maggie Cheung the lead actress in her figure hugging dresses, each of magnificent colors and prints that yet linger in my mind. The lead actors Tom Ford suits added to his slick look. I couldn’t take my eyes off. Their presence on the screen was enthralling and captured our complete attention without doubt. It was a treat for our eyes.
It is a beautiful film but for me it was not so much about telling a story as creating an atmosphere. The atmosphere of the 60’s, the Striking cinematography, brilliant soundtrack, each of these details gave it an aesthetic pleasure.
The dresses in the film, I counted were 21. Maggie’s dresses left a chain of thought in my mind. Each print was more beautiful than the other and each dress emphasized her fragile beauty. The colors were all earthy colors. The print or color of the dress either matched with something in the room or completely contrasted it as per my observation. The dresses would sometimes match with the smallest details in the room. However the entire enigma of her beauty also has to do with her hair and her entire look. Her hair being up adds to her image. Towards the end of the movie when her hair is changed she stops being so enigmatic, like the romance ends and so does the enigma. The dresses were known as cheongsams.
I find it extremely confusing and bizarre how cleverly the film is really told. It is so moving and enchanting that the idea of an affair is so subtly told and the emotions of the people facing the betrayal is what’s shown instead of the affair itself. The camera seems to lurk in every space, almost spying on Chow and Su Li-Zhen as they seek comfort with each other living so alone in a lonely city. The use of music is brilliant. The repeated cello, which follows the couple around the rainy streets. The whole idea of going out to get noodles while so glamorously shown has never been so sad.
The lead pairs relationship is so wonderfully vague. They keep mentioning that “We’ll never be like them” so the fact that their relationship isn’t taken further could have a great deal to do with the fact that they needed to prove their spouses were below them and they could never stoop to that level. But on some level it also seems like each of the characters is waiting for the other to act. The heartbreaking last scene leaves us knowing that the two never got together and their choices continuously kept them apart.
In the finale where Chow whispers his unnoticed regrets and feelings into a stone hollow at a ruined temple complex, before sealing them inside with mud, could be strange and melodramatic but however it somehow passes of as heartbreaking.