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114 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love in the Absence of Fate
Perfection in cinema is an almost impossible goal to achieve. Mostly because spectators have varying taste and perspectives. But you can't help but feel that Wong Kar-Wai's "In the Mood for Love" is anything short of perfection. The imagery with its lush colors and breathtaking movements is enough to elevate this film. The simple, yet somewhat complicated...
Published on June 7, 2002 by E. Kim

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "When you're single, you are only responsible to yourself."
Wong Kar-Wai's "In the Mood for Love" is a tale of a couple's unrequited love for one another. What separates it from the usual run-of-the-mill films that cover the same ground is it is more concerned with trying to capture the essence of that experience rather than documenting the experience itself.

Mr. Chow (Tony Leung) and Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung) are...
Published on May 26, 2005 by Steven Y.

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114 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love in the Absence of Fate, June 7, 2002
Perfection in cinema is an almost impossible goal to achieve. Mostly because spectators have varying taste and perspectives. But you can't help but feel that Wong Kar-Wai's "In the Mood for Love" is anything short of perfection. The imagery with its lush colors and breathtaking movements is enough to elevate this film. The simple, yet somewhat complicated tale is both heartfelt and authentic. And the performances by Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung are a marvel. But it's none of these that really makes this film, it's rather the manner that Kar-Wai so magically molds all these factors to set a mood that I have never felt before while watching a movie. In all honesty, I'm really not too fond of "forbidden love" movies, but this film really startled me.
Ironically, "In the Mood for Love" feels nothing like a Wong Kar-Wai film. It's a very slow moving film which uses lots of fades and dissolves. The Criterion edition of this film is probably the best dvd package I've seen to date. There are just so many extras on it, it's hard to believe. Deleted scenes, interviews, and promotional material, are just a few of the extras. The way Kar-Wai shoots his films (without a script) also adds to the suprise of picture. You see in the extras how much different the original concept was for "In the Mood for Love." There is also an alternate ending that seems very plain, but at the same time very heartbreaking.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars << Minimalist restraint >>, November 27, 2001
Galitt (South Australia) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: In the Mood For Love (VHS Tape)
Tony Leung is a journalist in Hong Kong, who rents a room with his wife in a family apartment. Next door, Maggie Cheung has done the same thing with her husband, who is almost always away on business.
As part of Kar-wai's game plan, neither the wife, nor the husband, is seen. They exist and are talked about, but never introduced.
Both Leung and Cheung's characters are painfully polite, which means you don't know what they're thinking. Even when it becomes obvious that their other halves are having an affair, it takes ages for either of them to respond. The idea of an emotional outburst would be unthinkable.
The film is so subtle and slow and internalized that it crystallizes into a thing of beauty. Longing has been choked by a thousand years of acceptable behavior. The cut of Cheung's dresses and the sheen of Leung's hair take on an unexpected importance in what appears to be Kar-wai's experiment into the purity of unconsummated passion.
By now this one is the most beautiful movie I had ever seen.
Every shot is like a poem. Each picture is a work of art.
I couldn't help myself from repeating the scenes again and again just to make sure i hadn't miss a thing.
A masterpiece.
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73 of 81 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Minimalist and Nostalgia, March 21, 2003
In the Mood for Love is such a charm despite a very simple plot. The year was 1962. Chow Mo Wan, a newspaper editor, recently moved into a dwelling populated by Shanghai immigrants with his wife. Through casual and accidental encounters Chow exchanged pleasantry with So Lai Jun (Mrs. Chan) who later found out about her husband's affair with Chow's wife. Heartbroken and devastated of the cruel truth, Chow buried himself in his job while So indulged in nightly movie screening. They began to let down the guard for one another and spent time during the mahjong sessions of their landlords. The characters forced themselves to abide by inveterate conventions and cultural morale that forbid an affair to become fruition. ...
Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung as usual deliver an impeccable performance in this 2001 Wong Kar-Wai release. Leung portraited a man who is unsatisfied about his marriage and denied his spouse's infidelity. Cheung seizes the empathy of her character who is accustomed to hush about reason for his husband's frequent absence. Maggie Cheung is elegant and charming in this movie. Not to mention the dazzling wardrobe she wears consistently over the entire movie. Her leg movements are captured in slow motion. Her arms dangling with the thermos meant for the late-night porridge order-to-go from the street vendor.
The movie is shot through a minimalist scope, that is, message is conveyed through very succinct scripts and imagery full of lush colors and meticulously chosen soundtracks. The film is shot in a very stealthy manner; it is as if a pin camera being fastened on the wall of the apartment. Conversations between Leung and Cheung are shot in an eavesdropping manner. The director seeks to de-emphasize other characters in order to focus on Leung and Cheung. Their spouse, respectively, always have their back facing the camera. Their performances are conducted by voices. The gaffer has done an excellent job adjusting the hues of light which is relatively dim throughout.
As a native of Hong Kong (born in mid-70s) who never witnessed the city in glory 60s, In the Move for Love has done me a favor in reminiscence. Wong Kar Wai makes sure everything is done just like when it was the 60s. Yes, even the restaurant menu to which Leung and Cheung skimmed through briefly. It was a green piece of cardboard decorated with some coconut tree clip art. Menu with such heavy Malaysian touch can still be found at local cafés that serve a fusion menu of Malaysian spices and sirloin steaks. Napkins are folded diamond-shaped like paper planes and kept at the far end of the booth. Leung and Cheung sip coffee from flimsy green chinaware cups that hold maybe three gulps. The green vinyl blinds hang unevenly at the office windows. The rotary phone. The subleased rooms where newly-wed couples rent and the kitchen with whom they share with their landlords. The white-collared wardrobe worn by housemaids. These are all the epitomes of lives in the 60s, in Hong Kong. Some find this mmovie a little slow-paced. I savor the manner in which the film is made. I savor all the details, the choice of colors and the tiptoeing scores in the film. 4.6 stars...
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Breathe Taking Masterpiece, May 4, 2001
"sunkelly" (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
For all of you who are mystified with sensual, sensitive, delicate yet stunning beauty of Asian movies, this movie is all that you have been waiting for. Unknown to many, this movie came out at the same time as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and it was MUCH more appreaciated than CTHD in majority in Asia, in term of acting, cinematography and story. The actors are well recognized by their work, Tony Leung won the Cannes Best Actor award for this piece, Maggie Cheung, who holds a large collection of european and asian awards for extradinary acting skills, was crowned the queen of Hong Kong Film Festive for the 5th time this year for her role. A word for those of you who enjoyed action movies, this movie does not have any flying fists or alike. Yet, it is a movie which emits a deep feeling of nolstagia, and it will remind you of the bits and pieces of the "lost sentiments" in your life. The cinematography is so stunning and every little detail is so delicately brushed up, you feel as if you can even smell the scent from the redwood furnitures. The movie is visually breathetaking, in fact, the Chinese dresses wore by Maggie Cheung so beautifully blended into the dim-lit scenes, it started a new fashion movement in Asia! The plot is deeply moving. The two people who are next door neighbors both knew their spouses were having an affair and left them behind. Confused and eager to know what happened, they came to each other. Slowly, the attraction grows between them, yet bound by their morals and impacted by their spouses' betrayal, they silently denied and resisted the growing affection. Slowly, the confined living space and the tight dresses wore by the actress and the dim light transformed into symbols of the social boundaries, confined emotions, suppressed desires, and diminishing hope, and Tony Leung reveals it all in his deep, sorrowful gazes, accompanied with Nat King Cole singing in Spanish " Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps"... I am not a person who loves the indulgence in the past or the blues, yet I willingly fell for the magically reminiscent scenes. I was captivated completely. However, you must see it to believe it.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful... without the deleted scenes, October 20, 2005
Mephisto (Coahuila, Mexico) - See all my reviews
A user before me has warn you not to watch the deleted scenes. Lucky of you, nobody told me that on time.

This is a beautiful movie by any standard: the colors, the mood, the story, the acting, the soundtrack -at the same level of the one in Kieslowski's Three Colors: Red-. Image is sharp and the sound is clear.

It tells the story of an impossible love. It is not impossible because of the circumstances, but because the characters have decided to deny their feelings. They are married to other people, but they love each other. Their couples are being unfaithful to them, but they don't want to do the same thing.

Every time they try to talk about their feelings the camera shows them as if they were at jail, behind bars (usually the bars from a window). That's what's happening to them: they are trapped because they have decided to. Of course, the bars are not really there, they're free to do whatever they want to, but they have to prove that they're different, that it is possible to defeat temptation.

The DVD comes in two discs: disc one is the movie itself, disc two comes with a lot of extras. All the extras are worthy... except the deleted scenes. All the charm and the sadness of the story in disc one is destroyed by these scenes that should've never been filmed. This is one of the best examples of the importance of editing the story, as the movie gained a lot of points by delivering something very different and shorter than the original idea. Buy it, you won't regret it.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best movie of the year, February 6, 2001
It's only a shame that this wasn't released several months ago in the U.S. as it was in the U.K. or else it would have been nominated for some major awards. It's actually really hard to fault anything in this movie: the acting, directing, music and cinematography are all world-class.
The story centers around a woman and a man who live next to each other in a Hong Kong apartment complex in 1962. They both suspect their spouses of having an affair with each other, and begin to fall in love themselves. Being in such tight surroundings they obviously cannot show very much affection to each other in public and rely on subtle glances and very little actual physical contact: it is a testimony to the superb acting skills of the two main leads, Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung, that the relationship is believable. The director Wong Kar-Wai is also brilliant at mixing in slow-motion shots (perhaps to emphasize how slowly their relationship develops) and Spanish music, which fits the mood of the movie amazingly well.
To add to the atmosphere, the movie is almost completely shot indoors except for some shots outside at night and in the rain and the haunting last scene. You really get a sense of clautrophobia after a while, not only of the living space but how confined the characters' marriages and even lives are as well. Futhermore, the movie also has a political overtone which is, like everything else here, subtle, but suffice to say its setting in 1962 is not accidental.
Finally, the lack of a huge amount of dialogue means that those who don't like subtitles won't have to suffer through so many. For those of you like me who were disappointed with most of the junk nominated for Academy Awards this year, finally here's a movie that lives up to its reputation.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The seductive quality of restraint, June 8, 2008
This review is from: In the Mood for Love (DVD)
There are only three romance films I will view time and time again - Casablanca, Cinema Paradiso and In the Mood for Love. To dismiss the third as simply a pointless art house film is, in my opinion, undeserved because I regard it as a prime example of cinematic art at its best and most accessible. A reviewer has termed the appreciation of this film as "cult following," and if that's the case, count me in as a cult member.

The story opens with a married woman, Chan Su Li-zhen, moving into an apartment in overcrowded 1960s Hong Kong. Moving in next door is a married writer, Chow Mo-wan. Their respective spouses are absent most of the time, with Mr. Chan often away on business trips and Mrs. Chow often working late. Not long after, through gossip and coincidence, Li-zhen and Mo-wan realize that their spouses are cheating on them. Both deeply hurt, they attempt to piece together the circumstances behind the affair and in doing so, they themselves fall in love with one another. They decide not to succumb to what their spouses have done, instead choosing to internalize whatever desire they feel for each other. Unable or unwilling to resolve their moral quandary, they attempt to go about their daily lives, tortured by the intensity of their feelings for one another, yet reluctant to do anything about it. "In The Mood for Love" doesn't demonize adultery nor does it ennoble fidelity; the film takes no stance and it's up to the viewer to judge.

It is to director Wong Kar-wai's credit that the reserve depicted by Li-zhen and Mo-wan sizzles hotter than any sex scene in movies. In here, the most one will see is a brief holding of hands, a pained embrace, a subtle grazing of arms, an intimate laying of one's head on another's shoulder. It is also to the actors' credit that they are able to suffuse the screen with varying degrees of passion and longing simply by the looks they give one another and the slow movement of their heads. It is all so restrained, so understated, and yet so sensual.

Its two handsome leads, Maggie Cheung Man-yuk and Tony Leung Chiu-wai, of course, add to the film's beauty, and with Kar-wai's cinematic skills the total package is drop dead gorgeous. Kar-wai heightens the claustrophobia of Hong Kong with tight, voyeuristic shots of narrow hallways, narrow stairs to a crowded noodle shop, and shots of apartment dwellers huddled over mahjong in a tiny room. A graduate of graphic design, Kar-wai has an unerring eye for aesthetics--many slow motion scenes of Cheung swaying in cheongsams that are explosions of color in dark and smoky backgrounds, the jadeite on a restaurant table that evokes a past era, each scene seemingly a tableau meant as a feast for the eyes and a chance to share its characters' sadness. Even the film's music emphasizes its mood and sensuality - from Shigeru Umebayashi's haunting instrumental to Nat King Cole's rendition of the Cuban romantic ballad, `Quizas, Quizas, Quizas (Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps),' to the original Spanish version of `Green Eyes,' `Aquellos Ojos Verdes.'

In one of the last scenes, Mo-wan travels to Angkor Wat in Phnom Penh, where he whispers in a hole in a tree what we guess to be his longing for Li-zhen for we don't hear what he whispers. He then covers the hole with mud so the secret will forever stay buried. Among all the brilliant scenes in this film, this is the one that haunts me the most. "In the Mood for Love" is highly stylized and lush, and watching it is an intoxicating and hypnotic experience, but more importantly, it's a sensitive and thought-provoking film that will resonate to those who've loved and desired someone they cannot have. I can only wish more movies were made with this level of artistry.

(Language: Cantonese with English subtitles)
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply beautiful....., May 18, 2002
Todd C. Spears (Valley Village, CA United States) - See all my reviews
"In the Mood for Love" is simply one of the most beautiful films of the last several years. I cannot praise this film enough - the plot is at once simple and complex, the characters are both real and heartfelt, and the images are powerful and elegant. There really are so many positive things to say about this film, I'll try and hit the highlights for you.
The acting is superb - both Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung give impeccable performances filled with subtle emotion. They radiate a quietly powerful intensity that is so lacking is a great number of film stars today.
The story moves in ways both expected and surprising. The pacing is wonderful as the story unfold slowly before you. They're none of the lighting fast cuts and manic pacing of most films. It's a slower film for a patient audience willing to wait for their just rewards. The overall design of the film with the use of color and wardrobe stunned me with it's rich simplicity. The same can be said of the photography - rich with nuance (the way the shots are framed is remarkable) and feeling.
With "In the Mood for Love" Wong Kar-Wai has become one of the most skilled directors of our time with this film, proving that "Happy Together" (another brilliant film) wasn't a fluke. The Criterion Collection edition of the film is a two disc set that has an astonishing number of extras. After watching the film once, I watched the extras - then immediately watched the film again with a fresh eye to see how the entire thing was put together. I was truly impressed.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wong Kar-Wai's Masterpiece, March 1, 2002
SD (Beijing, China) - See all my reviews
If you were to find a fault in Wong's film it would be the pace: slow, methodical, but inspite and because of that pace "In the Mood for Love" is an utterly engrossing tale; a tale of a man who suspects his wife of cheating and a women who suspects her husband of the same. As they secretly share their pains and suspiscions they fall in love, a love which, due to guilt and the society they live in, cannot blossom.
"In the Mood for Love" is a period piece, taking place in 1962 Hong Kong, and it captures the period wonderfully with small details like the snippets of Shanghainese speech and Nat King Cole's melodic voice floating in an American-style diner.
In this movie Wong Kar-Wai achieved brilliance on every level. Not only does he create a perfect mood with his methodical pace, dark yet beautiful camera work, but he tops it off with excellent performances by Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung and an enthralling soundtrack that ties it all together. I have been a fan of Wong Kar-wai for some time, but in all of his films I felt something was missing. Here he has captured it all. With "In the Mood for Love" Wong leaves the label "a good director" behind and becomes "a great director".
The DVD is full of fascinating extras: interviews with the cast, Wong Kar-wai; descriptions of the music used in the film; trailers, posters, images. You can spend hours not even looking at everything but the movie!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Subtle, January 29, 2008
Charlie C. Fan (Jersey City / New York City) - See all my reviews
As many have said, the cinematography is visually stunning and really sets the mood, akin to a smoky jazz club and you're the only one there, except there are no jazz clubs in the movie and there are actually two people... neither of them you. These people are Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung.

Some detractors of the movie claim it to be too slow or boring. Yes, it is a very slow moving piece and if you have a short attention span, you have to take that into consideration. If you do find that you are afflicted with ADD, try this... absorb the two main characters' acting style, notice the details, see how much they can convey through facial expressions and postures. That alone can carry the movie, the complex desires of what is not said... or rather what is said verbally but expressed differently. I'd say Tony and Maggie put on the best performance I've ever seen in any movie.

To those who found it boring and lacking plot, I kindly disagree with you. While you can watch the movie and get blown over questioning the existence of subtext and symbols (some of which may be nonexistent), wondering what anything means, the movie DOES have a plot. At the core, it is about two neighbors discovering that their respective husband and wife are having an affair AND how they come to terms with this: the little games they act out in hypothetical confrontations with their spouses, the little scenarios they act out as they puzzle over how a relationship begins, and finally the distractions they put play to put the affair out of their minds.

In particular, you may find it quite interesting and also quite realistic watching them come together by this betrayal and over time, growing fond of each other. If you are watching this movie for the Big Breakdown or a Dramatic Fight That Clinches Everything, you won't find it here. But there are many other pieces that can move your heart. Additionally, the dialog has a poetic cleverness at precise moments, allowing for it to be taken both literally and figuratively.

Quite beautiful.

One thing I thought worked very well for this movie is how ambivalent the ending is. Unlike Chungking Express where the movie ends on a definitive note or at a definitive point for each character, this movie plays more like real life. There are no actual 'endings' and there's always the potential for great joy or missed opportunity. If you didn't like this movie the first time around, give it another go with some patience. Admittedly, the first time I watched it I wasn't 'in the mood for love' and had to set it aside. Subsequent viewings have led to a deeper appreciation. Make sure you are inclined to be receptive.

Good luck!
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In the Mood for Love (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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