Director: Wong Kar Wai
Cast: Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung, Rebecca Pan, Lai Chin
Now when did I last see a good film like this I wonder. A stylistic masterpiece by Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai, it's a story that stays with you even after you're long finished. In The Mood For Love revolves around Mrs Chan (Maggie Cheung) and Mr Chow (Tony Leung). A stunner, who could have otherwise had several admirers following her, Mrs Chan comes across as rather sad and lonely character. So is her next-door neighbour, Mr Chow.
As the story unfolds, we get to know Mr Chow's wife was having a romantic liaison with Mrs Chan's husband. The discovery sort of bonds them together.
A journalist by profession we see Chow Mowan and Su Li-zhen leaning on each other for solace. There is evidently a spark of desire, but they decide to take it easy and never cross their limits perhaps out of social pressures or on ethical grounds.
It is their restrained pining for each other and the uncertainty of future that constantly intrigues you. As Mrs Chan says, "We will never be like them!" The two characters may at times remind you of Kim Ki Duk's 3-Iron or 1948 classic Spring in a Small City for that matter.
The yearning here is so poised that you are bound to feel for the protagonists. Instead of adding sexually explicit sequences writer-director Wong Kar Wai uses each movement of his camera to explain exactly what he wants to convey.
He is one of those gifted filmmakers who actually think through the lense. The camera keeps hovering - capturing glimpses of the cigarette smoke, raindrops, steaming cauldron of noodles, a small fan, curtains and the telephone - but constantly focusing on these two people stranded in unhappy marriages.
Another interesting thing that immediately draws your attention is Mrs Chan's fixation for bright floral print dresses. Neatly stitched in similar cuts with slightly exposed shoulders, her dresses come as a contrast to her otherwise gloomy mood.
The filmmaker chooses a theme with universal appeal, the constant struggle between repression and pleasure. It doesn't take sides, or if it does, it doesn't force the viewers to choose.
Wong's re-creation of Hong Kong in 1962 (the year when the story begins) is so apt that one tends to forget he has only shown us the rough sketches of the place and the existing social scenario.
A visual delight, the colour scheme seems breathtakingly beautiful. The film's haunting background score accentuates the untold misery.
VERDICT: Despite it's slow pace, the film lives up to its title as a touching mood piece.
PRICE: Rs 399