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花樣年華 (2000)
In the Mood for Love

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 05/29/2009
Summary: our glorious years have passed like flowers...

hong kong, the early sixties. mrs su (maggie cheung) and her husband move into the spare room in mrs suen's (rebecca pan) apartment. mr chow (tony leung) and his wife move into a spare room in the next-door apartment. mrs su works long hours, she's a secretary for a shipping company, and her husband frequently makes long trips to japan on business. mr chow works similarly late hours' as an editor for a newspaper, whilst his wife works even later into the night.

with lives such as these, mrs su and mr chow find themselves bumping into each other at late night eateries, as well as when they're making their way in and out of their building, and a neighbourly friendship begins to develop, spurred on by their shared interest in martial arts serials. it isn't long, however, before the frequent absences of both mr su and mrs chow are revealed as more than coincidental: they're having an affair.

mrs su and mr chow's friendship continues to develop as they play out likely scenarios of their spouses burgeoning to infidelity and how they may choose to confront them. all the while, their own relationship develops; but, always in their thoughts, is a conviction that they will not pursue an illicit entanglement of their own...

this is a film that i've loved since i first saw it a long while ago. so, when i found out that it was screening in the newly restored howard assembly room (at opera north / leeds grand theatre), i was there in a flash. the venue is rather lovely and definitely a nice place to watch something. the film, as always, was great.

the film is a real gem: a minimalistic portrait of the moments that occur between two people who are falling in love. it is said that a more defined narrative was sliced from the film during editing; but, regardless of whether this is true, the intensity and intimacy created by having almost every frame focussed on the interaction between its two central characters, either together or apart and thinking about each other, is incredibly powerful.

wong's pacing is excellent: despite the film garnering criticism for its (perceived) languid nature, last night, the ninety-eight minutes simply flew by. as performers, and an on screen pairing, maggie cheung and tony leung are completely engaging. even though this film was made after maggie cheung had already begun to take on fewer and fewer roles, her talent, grace and beauty are as evident as they ever have been. coiffured and wearing a stunning selection of dresses, she seems to almost glide through the film, managing to convey internal dialogues and thoughts through small movements and looks. tony leung, too, suits the role perfectly; looking great in a haze of smoke and managing to convey a sensitivity and vulnerability, with a presence which makes him a believable object of desire, in the eyes of mr su.

so much credit needs giving to wong and michael galasso for the selection (and composition) of the music to which cheung and leung's movement is, seemingly, choreographed to. it is one of my favourite soundtracks and still gets frequent airtime in my house. much praise should also go william chang who, as artistic director, costume designer and editor (no less...), plays a huge part in creating the visual beauty which christopher doyle and mark lee capture on film with aplomb. by 'in the mood for love' doyle seems to have managed to reign in a lot of his jauntier camera trickery and, along with lee, gives more emphasis to the lighting and composition, which, for me, makes this one of his strongest works.

great stuff. maybe it's time to go and watch '2046' again...

Reviewed by: pat00139
Date: 03/04/2007
Summary: Probably Mr. Wong's best

This movie is highly symbolic and quite subtle. That’s probably something most people don’t want to hear but believe me when I say it’s worth watching. As you may know, Wong Kar-Wai likes to suggest a few different things with his movies. This here is a very good example. Remember ‘Random Hearts’? Probably not, but this movie has two people meeting; a man and a woman move into adjacent apartments. Their respective spouses are cheating on them with the other’s spouse. That’s where the similarities between the two movies end, though. This one is clearly done to show director Wong Kar-Wai’s messages.

Tony Leung (Chiu-Wai) and Maggie Cheung move in to neighboring apartments. Their spouses are very infrequently home, so the two meet to act out fantasies. Mr. Leung pretends to be Mrs. Cheung’s husband and vice versa… well, Mrs. Cheung pretends to be his wife, not husband. Later, they act out problems with their ‘real’ relationship. Sometimes you can’t figure out if they’re acting or being sincere. Nobody can really say what they want to; all they do is act all the time.

Everything right down to the last detail means something. Everything – the dialogue, the camera positions, the editing, right down to the cigarette smoke – has something to say. The mirrors show not what’s really there, but the way people see each other, or other people. There are a few great shots where the camera moves behind both actors’ backs but all you see are the reflections in the mirrors. The terrific acting changes in subtle ways when these shots happen. Nobody can see us as we are, only as a reflection. Two-shots are used for real effect and jump cuts actually carry meaning.

The cinematography by Christopher Doyle and Mark Li has to be seen to be believed. This is Mr. Doyle’s best work, even beating out ‘Hero’ and ‘Chunkging Express’. Although, I have to admit that Mr. Doyle only shot a third (I think) of the movie and left soon after shooting began, so Mr. Li replaced him. The way the shadows create dark eyes, or the subtle way the light makes faces glow is stunning. The music by Michael Galasso is just sublime. The lover theme, borrowed from a Seijun Suzuki movie, comes often, but never gets annoying. It’s filled with longing and passion. The art director, costumes and sets convey the same feelings. Wong Kar-Wai set the film in Hong Kong in the 1960s, so the colours are vibrant and bright. Mr. Wong had everything he wanted, and he put everything in this movie.

The movie competed with ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ at the Hong Kong Film Awards, but still managed to snag 5 awards. Mr Doyle, Mr Galasso and Mr. Wong didn’t win (Peter Pau, Tan Dun and Ang Lee won over them, respectively), but they sure deserved every ounce of recognition they got. This is Wong Kar-Wai’s most decorated movie, having won many, many awards from so many places around the world.

The first time I saw this movie was in a double-bill with ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’. The second time I saw this movie I was sitting in my living room some three years later, watching it to write this review. I will undoubtedly see it many more times, as it’s very layered, and more viewings bring out more to see. The music alone is enough to make anyone see it. It’s better than his previous movies. It’s subtler and more mature. Gone are the voiceovers and step photography (mostly, anyway), and the overt symbolism of the past. This is one hell of a movie and all I can say is: wow.

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 09/07/2006

Newspaper writer Chow (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) meets Secretary Su (Maggie Cheung). Both are lonely as their spouses are frequently working abroad and supposedly having an affair, so they get together to be surrogate partners. This sparks an inevitable feeling of kindred spirits and the first flashes of romance between them. The question is: will they give in to their feelings for each other, or will they do the honourable thing?

I’m well aware of how utterly adored IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE is, being probably the most well known of all of Wong Kar-Wai’s films, especially overseas (i.e. here). But I didn’t like it on the first viewing and now, on third viewing, and in context with his other work, I’m finally convinced I’m never going to like it. In fact, I’m quite sure I’ve liked it less and less with each subsequent viewing.

Before going into details, a little more about the plot. Well, this being a Wong Kar-Wai film, there isn’t a plot as such, but the film focuses solely on the two would-be lovers. There isn’t any great surprise there, but gone are the film-noir voice-overs to let us know what they are thinking. This isn’t a bad thing, actually, in retrospect, as when they reappear in the sequel you realise it was becoming quite a clichéd device anyway. However, what now happens is you get long periods of silence that feel quite uncomfortable. According to Maggie Cheung, the plot of the movie was left on the cutting room floor while what remains is hints and insinuation. Again, a nice idea in theory, but I don’t really think the remaining material stood on its own merits.

So, it’s vague. Very vague. Which I can handle. I can even handle the deliberate slow pacing (something that I’m appreciating as I get older). That does not bother me. What does is a multitude of things. Firstly, I never really buy into the characters and I’m confused as to whether Chow and Su’s respective partners are having an affair with each other or whether it’s just a co-incidence that they’re both absent. I’m not sure Mrs Chow even is having an affair, let alone Mr Chan. I’m sure that’s part of the point, but the idea of infidelity just comes out of nowhere in the movie with Chow practicing with Su how to handle the confrontation when and if it happens. Next up, Wong’s sense of using music seems to have deserted him completely. The (presumably original) theme tune is good, but is used throughout the film whenever something happens (or, indeed, doesn’t happen) between the characters. It gets old pretty quickly, especially when you’ve already watched the film a couple of times. Finally, and most unforgivably, the end is blatantly recycled from his previous movie HAPPY TOGETHER. Seriously, substitute a lighthouse at the end of the world with Angkor Wat and replace the friend with one of the central characters and it’s virtually identical. I’m amazed more people haven’t actually noticed this, and can only assume they haven’t seen the earlier film. I’m pretty sure the Cannes crowd wouldn’t have seen it anyway (which is their loss).

So griping over (for now), even I have admit there are a few highlights. The scene where the couple are chatting with the pretence of buying presents for their spouses and then admitting to each other that their partners already own the discussed items and admitting that they knew each other’s spouse already has the item is great, as is the scene where Su is essentially trapped in Chow’s apartment overnight because she can’t get out without being spotted my their Mahjong playing neighbours. Also of note is little scene where the tenants are cooing over a new rice cooker which is quite amusing, and the only obviously light touch to the movie. On the photography side of things, Christopher Doyle’s style seems a little reigned in for this one. By that, I mean he does a splendid job, naturally, but he isn’t as “obvious” or showy as he can be, and that does suit the piece well, I freely admit.

So there we have it. A lot of people’s favourite Wong Kar-Wai film. Hell, a lot of people’s favourite film of all time. And I’ve just gone and trashed it. And what’s more, I’m supposed to be a fan of the man! I hope what I’ve written hasn’t pissed too many people off, and I hope I’ve made a good case as to why I think it’s the most disappointing Hong Kong film he’s ever made (AS TEARS GO BY can be forgiven under the circumstances). But I figure I’m allowed the odd difference of opinion on classic films every once in a while. I really wish it wasn’t so, but this is one Wong Kar-Wai film I can live without.

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 07/20/2005
Summary: 2nd review: still don't like it!

I was both blessed and cursed to see IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE well ahead of the crowd, as the Leeds Film Festival somehow got a print to show before much English language press had surfaced following its debut at Cannes. I got together a group of friends to make the trip, telling them that Wong Kar-Wai was the world's coolest film-maker, with his style marked by flashy camera techniques and visual energy. Obviously I was thinking of something like CHUNGKING EXPRESS at the time, and had either forgotten DAYS OF BEING WILD or just never expected Wong Kar-Wai to return to the more restrained, sedate style of that film. In fact he goes far beyond it, reining in all his excesses to create an extremely minimalist work that is above all else very SLOOOOW.

There had long been rumours that Wong had planned a sequel to DAYS OF BEING WILD but been unable to make one at the time - the main evidence being Tony Leung Chiu-Wai's otherwise inexplicable appearance at the very end of the film. In fact, I believe that Tony's scene was left over from a separate story Wong had planned to incorporate into DoBW but either abandoned shooting or removed in the editing room. Whether he had intended to make a follow-up all along or the idea was planted in his head by the rumours, I don't know, but a decade later he seems to have ended up making one. The film cannot be called a sequel, as several members of the cast return but in entirely different roles. It may be an alternate-history sort of revisiting of the story, perhaps showing how things might have panned out for some of the characters if Leslie Cheung's York had not kicked their lives off track.

Anyway, debating the matter further is academic, since any connection that ITMFL shares with DoBW is obtuse and circumstantial, as no events from one can be tied to the other in a cause-effect way, making the films essentially independent.

ITMFL tells the story of two neighbours who discover their spouses are having an affair, and try acting out the parts of their other halves to try and understand how it happened. Or rather, it *doesn't* tell the story, it leaves the viewer to deduce it. Maggie Cheung commented in interviews that she was shocked when she saw the final cut of the film, because Wong appeared to have basically cut out the plot in the editing room. What's left is the moments between the plot, the ambient parts of the characters lives, with the 'story' left inferred rather than explained. This is the main conceit of the film, the mark that Wong Kar-Wai has left on it to justify his auteur status. It's a device that Tsui Hark strenuously denies "borrowing" for his 2001 film TIME AND TIDE.

When I first saw the film in the cinema I was taken aback by the major change of style, from outright excess to extremes of subtlety, and was somewhat disappointed that the film was not what I'd expected to see. I was also rather distracted by the thought that all my friends would think I'd lied about what sort of film-maker Wong was, to trick them into seeing a super-slow art film. This didn't leave the best impression with me, and I observed at the time that I'd have to watch it again with properly adjusted expectations to properly evaluate it. Working at a Wong Kar Wai-like pace myself, it's taken me just short of five years to be in the mood for IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE again. In the mean time I've seen the film acclaimed world-wide, winning countless awards and being treated to special editions from prestigious DVD firms that no other WKW film has been lucky enough to deserve. I've heard the film described as Wong's masterpiece by more than a few people, some of whom have actually even seen his other films beforehand. Wong is no longer the maverick young director equally loved and loathed by the cult audience that had seen his films, he's now a worlwide commodity if not quite a household name. In short, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE has made an impression.

All of which context and preamble is basically the lead-up for me to say: I've watched the film again, and I still don't get it. I knew as well as I possibly could what to expect from the film, I'd revised DAYS OF BEING WILD a few days earlier so that I could spot any references or commonality between them, I'd waited until I was in the right mood for something a little bit slow & artsy... and the film left me as cold or colder than it did five years ago. Yes it's pretty, but not in the same way that FALLEN ANGELS or ASHES OF TIME or even DAYS OF BEING WILD are pretty. Yes the acting from Tony & Maggie is top notch, but the characters are kept at such a distance from the audience by the film that no amount of acting is going to make you feel particularly close to them, to view them as flesh & blood people or to imagine yourself in their shoes. Since the film basically features those two characters on screen for 90 minutes, mostly doing rather mundane things, you need some sort of connection to them to become immersed in the film and forget you're a person lying on a bed in 2005 with a bit of a lingering cold, watching a DVD. I didn't get that from IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE at all... it raised no emotions in me except a little boredom, and curiosity as to whether I'd enjoy the film more if I pressed the Fast-Forward button on my remote.

Perhaps it's me... perhaps I'm just still not ready for the film. I can't empathise with the characters or their situation, can't really imagine what they're going through or how they feel... perhaps one has to have been married to 'get' the film? I don't think that's it, though, but I am definitely at a loss as to why it is so universally praised and adored. The cynical side of me can't help suspecting that critics in particular like the film because they know it's the sort of film they're "supposed" to like - slow and inscrutable - because that's what distinguishes them from the common people, who are simply to crude to understand art. But then there are people I like and respect who seem to like the film quite a bit too, so I grudgingly have to admit there must be something to it that simply doesn't work for me.

One thing that is noticable when watching DAYS OF BEING WILD and IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE is the recurring symbol of a clock, and the implication that the film wants to say something about time. The coda for the film seems to comment on the futility of trying to live in the past, since one can never return to it - "He remembers those vanished years as though looking through a dusty window pane, the past is something he could see but not touch, and everything he sees is blurred and indistinct". The "message" of the film could be read as "missed opportunities stay missed" (and therefore should not be missed when they arise?). If this is what Wong Kar Wai wanted to say with the film, it's somewhat ironic that he returned to a decade-old film to say it :p He seems to be ignoring his own advice still, returning to the same characters/themes in his follow-up to ITMFL, 2046.I still haven't seen it, but general consensus seems to be that he shouldn't have bothered - even Christopher Doyle recently opined that 2046 was "unnecessary". Personally I'd extend that comment back to IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE too :p

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 07/18/2005
Summary: A beautiful look at the treachery of love

A friend once described the narrative of the opera "Pelleas and Melisande" as: "Nothing happens. Then Melisande dies." That could be a starting point for discussing this achingly beautiful film in which two people, each betrayed by his spouse, never quite become lovers. Even though they are sharing thoughts and feelings, a true willed intimacy is impossible.

Maggie Cheung has never looked more sublime and I have seen almost all of her movies, from the comedies in the 1980s to "Clean", not yet officially released in North America. Even "A Fishy Story" in which every shot of her was a clinic in how to make an actress look great on film pales in comparison.

In addition to the masterful cinematography of Christopher Doyle, Maggie Cheung looks so astonishing in this movie for a few other reasons. One is the very spare narrative and her complete command of it--she inhabits the part of the wronged but still somehow loyal wife so strongly that we lose sight of Maggie the actress. She becomes Su Li-zhen Chan, a pensive, tentative and badly hurt young woman who the audience falls in love with. Another reason is the astoundingly effective costuming by William Chan. She appears in many different variations of the traditional Cheongsam, its demure high neckline helping to frame her face. That her character owns (it would seem) several score of them is less important than how she looks in them.

Tony Leung Chiu Wai is well cast as Chow Mo-wan, the betrayed spouse. He is patient and long-suffering--too much so. He is simply too nice a guy. When the two of them have dinner and realize that their spouses have been sleeping with each other he is more rueful than angry.

We find out more about the life of Chow Mo-wan than Su Li-zhen Chan. Su Li goes to work (where she helps her boss keep his mistress a secret from his wife) returns home and doesn't seem to have much else to do. Chow Mo-wan not only has a work life but a social life of sorts. He also has ambitions to become an illustrated novel author and artist.

So the Tony Leung character, while suffering from his wife's infidelity, has a few other resources upon which to draw while Maggie Cheung's character is surrounded by philandering men with little else to distract her.

The movie is also a slice of early 1960s Hong Kong life, depicting the way that immigrants from one part of Shanghai lived cheek by jowl in rented rooms of rented apartments. The residents of the building make compromises in order to exist together--a balancing act between the need for privacy, a very human nosiness about people who they don't really know but who live in their midst and the requirements of human communication and simple politeness.

A further review could discuss this--the isolated "other" in the middle of the Hong Kong crowd but for me this is Maggie's movie and one worth seeing for her alone.

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 07/05/2005

Set in Hong Kong during the early 60's, Wong Kar Wai's fantastic film explores the lives of two people on the outside of an extra-marital affair. As the movie opens, the two couples are both moving into adjoining rooms in a woman's house, with the movers mixing their belongings by accident. Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) works for a small paper, while Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung) is a
secretary. Although at first only casually interacting, the two begin to spend time together after their spouses are constantly away on business. Putting two and two together, they come to the realization that their partners are having an affair with each other. Having lost their sense of companionship with their respective wife and husband, the two find their connection by trying to find out how the affair started, and how each would eventually break off it off. Never becoming a sexual relationship, their bond becomes more of mental one, depending on each for support during the difficult surrounding situation.

This is a true return to form for Wong Kar Wai, who leaves behind the highly stylistic camera work of past films such as Ashes of Time and Chungking Express and instead uses more conventional methods. However, he still manages to create an incredibly artistic and beautiful movie. Kar Wai hardly ever uses straight on camera shots, instead using interesting angles that allow the viewer to imagine what is taking place out of the scene. The screenplay was also written by Kar Wai, and the dialouge between the two leads is great, although some of the best scenes consist of just seeing the emotional changes and non-verbal interactions between Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung. Both do an incredible job in their roles and draw the audience into their painful situations. Although his past films have rather drab color and a faded look, In the Mood For Love has truly vibrant colors, from Maggie Cheung's multitude of slender dresses to the settings in which the two are constantly meeting.

With great acting, excellent writing and wonderful direction, In the Mood For Love is definitely a movie you don't want to miss seeing. Fans of Wong Kar Wai's will certainly not be disappointed, and for anyone not familiar with his work, this is a great introduction to one of the most innovative filmmakers of this past decade.


Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 06/19/2005

Despite the vividly beautiful images and depth in the wonderful performances, no matter how much and how hard I try, I cannot get into this movie. I attribute my lack of interest to my lack of experience in love's "missed moment" (which is a crucial theme) and in 60s Hong Kong immigrant life in general. I feel more connected to Kar Wai's contemporary HK setting and in his one period wuxia pian.

Hua Yang Nian Hua is a movie worth taking the risk to check out even if you don't like art-house cinema. I regard it highly, even if it doesn't strike a personal chord with me.


Reviewed by: balstino
Date: 07/23/2002
Summary: Dreamy, a must Buy.

I found ITMFL mesmerising and wonderful. Wong Kar-Wai went serious for this production and the results are all the better for it. If you didn't think much of Chungking Express, don't let that put you off this film. Overall, it's much tighter and soothing, with fantastic performances and a beautiful atmosphere.

ITMFL proves that HK cinema has a future beyond imitating hollywood rubbish.

Reviewed by: zen
Date: 07/07/2002

I have to admit that i'm not familiar with Wong Kar-Wai's work. This is his second after the memorable Chungking Express. Sadly though the movie is beyond my expectation. The feeling in the end is vague if not non-existant at all.

But credits should be given to the mains, Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung. No doubt the acting is one of their best bust alass, i believe the storyline is a let down in the first place.


- Hoping to see more of Kar-Wai's bests the same par as Chungking Express

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 03/07/2002
Summary: In the mood for a art house movie??

Ummm not my type of movie. I found it slow, and there is not much dialogue. The movie comes through with emotions, and a sense of duty/honour in the chinese tradition. How people are suppose to act and things along those lines.
For me, i felt nothing for this movie. It's not your everyday movie, thats for sure........


Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/12/2002
Summary: VERY GOOD

Let me start by saying this, especially to the views of the other reviewers here...if you don't like the 'art' style of movies,then don't watch them.

That aside, let me simply say, that as far as this genre goes, it rates very high for me. I think this is the only movie I give full marks for in the whole of 2000, this really stood out to me.

Rating 5/5

(This rating is based on the year & genre, so don't think it's based as a comparison on new releases etc.)

Reviewed by: Trigger
Date: 11/20/2001
Summary: Another Arthouse Film... yawn...

Let me preface what I'm about to say by letting you know there are things in this review that may or may not be spoilers.

In The Mood For Love
***/***** (3 Stars)

This film has generated a fair amount of buzz in the festival circuit. To be quite honest, I wasn't all that impressed. It looked promising for the first half, but then just became sludge... nothing was really going on and the spineless characters made me sick. I loved where the story was going, but it never actually got there in my opinion. It just felt as though they ran out of steam. I got rather bored with it near the end - and the ending itself really ticked me off... Well it would have, but by then I had somewhat lost interest.

Maggie Cheung was exquisite as usual - even more so than usual - beautiful and radiant. Tony Leung played his part well - he was less than charismatic, but I believe he was supposed to be a fairly rigid character. I found the cinematography to be quite excellent. It was well crafted and filmed and acted and even the score was great - reminded me of some italian cinema or even Peter Greenaway-esque. The whole thing was very stylish and
fresh. The score got old really quickly when they kept playing the same looped bit of song over and over and over... it sounded like it was supposed to be a small orchestra doing a live score, but it was totally a recording. Minor flaw. I was prepared to give it a 4 Star rating or better, but the ending stunk it up. Not just the very ending, but the last 20 minutes before that just dragged and then they leave us with "that".


Not tragic, not happy, just "blah". Plus, it made me realize how pitiful the characters were for allowing their spouses to cheat on them and not do anything about it except fawn over each other while treating it as forbidden territory. I understand the time and location at which this was supposed to take place and all - but still... I cry at movies sometimes - I'm not afraid to admit it - but I felt nothing for these characters... I wanted to and I kept waiting to, but nothing. Oh well... different strokes for different folks I guess since most people seem to really love this film.

Upon subsequent viewings and watching it with a better print and presentation, the film kinda grew on me. I still don't think it's all that great, but it's worth watching. I agree with the reviewer who stated that you already know if you like this film based on whether or not you like Wong Kar Wai.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: trenty
Date: 07/30/2001
Summary: Half decent.

"In the mood for love" is one of those movie you have to be patient in order to watch. To be honest, this is my first Wong Kar Wai's film.

The main plot and setting were being introduced by previous reviewers so I am not going to repeat here. Just a few notes to the setting, it was very well done, giving the audiences a visual moody look. Also, the director did a great job inputting the soundtrack during the movie to move along the viewers.

Due to the fact that the plot is really simple, I think Wong Kar Wai needs a bit more work to move the viewers rather than moving along with the viewers. Fortunately, he got Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung for the main roles. Therefore, at least the viewers will sit at their seats until the movie ends.

As to the performances, Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung gave the audiences a superb acting standard. Other roles were well done too.

Overall, this movie is very slow-paced. And if Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung were not the main roles in the movie, this movie will not be decent at all. Giving it a half decent film mainly because of the boredom matter. I will only recommend this film to people who are a fan of either Tony Leung and Maggie. Otherwise, this slow-paced romance story can be a skip for modern romance genre fans.

Reviewed by: runo_jp
Date: 06/02/2001
Summary: in the mood for love

I think this is one of my prefered movie of Wong Kar Wai, right after “Chungking Express”. The story is simple, beautifully filmed, and the actors are giving their very best. Multiple visions required.

Reviewed by: natty
Date: 05/28/2001
Summary: So sorry

Well i've had enough
You know i've got to say something about Wong kar Wai , Why doesn't he try to surprise us like Ang lee. At least Ang lee made his point that he can make a great movie like Crouching tiger. But Wong kar Wai 'Gosh all his movies been a dissapointment to me it's like some one walking down the street with a camcorder. I hate all his movies that i've ever watched. say chungking Express he failed my favorite actress Bridget lin ,Then came Fallen Angels a More Greater dissapointment.What's up Wong Kar Wai' At least do a research on the script B4 you Get behind the camera. Now this year i watched In the mood For love.(The reason was bcoz it had maggie and Tony as the lead actors)But Wong Kar Wai Just in case you Ever happen to surf Thru HKMDB Know that There is some one very dissapointed with your Camera Work.AT least you get some Great Recognition in The U.S but i guess it's Just by FLUKE. I Recommend Wong Kar Wai taking some lessons From Guys like Yuen tak, Yuen woo ping Or the great Yuen Kwai.I Bet they can teach how to make an.......? Too bad to say this but it was due to ....well never mind. But the main thing is i bite my nails considering that i used couple bucks To buy piece of crap made by Wong kar wai and i know that I'm not the only one. He only tries to cheat us by getting dem great actors. What a shame.

Well all the sound tracks are cool meaning i satisfy my ears , But my eyes too need the same treat too.

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 05/27/2001
Summary: Disappointed, but maybe my expectations were wrong

IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE - Personally I found it rather boring, and a little bit hollow. It might just be that I was expecting something else when I went into the theatre though - something more like the in-your-face splendour of WKW's past works. The characters and the situation didn't really move me though, and nothing made me think quite as deeply or as hard as e.g. Ashes Of Time, Fallen Angels or Chungking Express. I plan to watch it again one day knowing what to expect, and then I may be more impressed.

I can't help comparing it to Juliet In Love, which I saw a few days earlier and moved me so much more.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Chuma
Date: 03/21/2001
Summary: Could this be the film to usurp Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in the popularity stakes?

Tony Leung (star of Happy Together, Hard Boiled and A Bullet in the Head amongst others),
introduced Wong Kar-Wei's new film In the Mood For Love at a special screening in Melbourne on the 20/3.

The session proved to be so popular that they had to screen the film in two cinemas with Tony introducing it
in one, then going accross to the other cinema.

The crowd was very excited, but they were told to take it easy as Tony Leung was mobbed at his Sydney
appearance to promote this film.

In his short Q&A with a representative from the AFI, Tony Leung talked about the differences in working
with Wong Kar-Wei and John Woo, his first movie role wiht Maggie Cheung (which he said many people
were surprised at because they worked very well together) and mentioned his role in Wong Kar-Wei's upcoming
film 2047.


Set in 1960's Hong Kong, Mrs Chan (Maggie Cheung) abd Mr Chow (Tony Leung) move in next
door to each other with their respective partners.

They are sharing appartments with two seperate families and during the move some
of their possessions get mixed up. This is when Mr Chow and Mrs Chan first meet,
but it is not the last.

They both settle in well to their appartments and go about their lives.
For some strange reason, we never see the faces of Mr Chan and Mrs Chow,
which is important but it is not explained fully.

Everything is not what it seems however, as Mrs Chow keeps working late and
Mr Chan is always away on business. Mrs Chan and Mr Chow try not to notice
and keep going on with their lives.

As much as they try though, two two can't live that way forever and they
seem to be drawn towards each other. Will they get together or not?

This is a very different Hong Kong movie from what has been released recently,
but it is extremely good for it. I've said it before and I'll say it again,
not all Hong Kong movies are about people kicking each other in the head.

It seems to be more of a dramatic film as the romance is very restrained.
The way the romance is handled is what will either make you love the film
or hate it, as it is portrayed as an "almost, but not quite" type of
relationship and it does take its own time play out.

The cinematography of this film is stunning, giving it a very unique and
intimate feel. (Most of it is shot indoors, but it never seems claustrophic.)

Special mention must also got to the soundtrack, which not only suits the era
perfectly, but helps give the film character over the many scenes in which it features.
(The cello is one of the instruments that features greatly on the soundtrack, and
is probably what you will remember most about the film appart from the food and smoking.)

I would recommend this film to people who like dramatic movies along with romance fans
(as long as they don't expect a "Hollywood Style" romance.)

Rating : 10/10

Reviewed by: KwanHoFans
Date: 01/13/2001
Summary: On Wong Kar-Wai's unique filming style

To begin with, I must admit I am not a big fan of Wong Kar-Wai's directing style, though I know that his work has been controversial both in Hong Kong and abroad and has won him numerous prestigious awards.

His latest installment is set in Hong Kong in the early 1960's. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai plays newspaper editor Chow Mo-Wan and Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk plays Su Li-Zhen, a secretary at a shipping company. Both are married, and by coincidence both move into a crowded building on the same day. Their spouses are seldom home and the audience (and the two leads)
soon realize the absentee spouses are having an affair. In the process of trying to cope with this devastating revelation and pondering over how they should react, they find support, shared interests and even a worthy companion in each other. Despite their growing love for each other, however, they feel obliged to suppress their feelings which they consider
inappropriate (as would many people brought up in Hong Kong and China in those days), Su more so than Chow. In the end they go their separate ways and their love for each other is never fulfilled.

Both Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung are highly respected actors in the HK film industry, and they live up to expectations in their respective performances. The range of emotions experienced by the characters are conveyed effectively, even in scenes where not a word is spoken. Without being unduly dramatic, Leung and Cheung bring their characters to life as believable, regular people who happen to fall in love in the wrong social climate and under unfavourable circumstances. Despite strong
performances from both leads, however, I don't believe them to be the best from either one of these veteran actors with extensive experience in film.

The retro-Hong Kong 60's-style of scenery and costumes are recreated meticulously and deserve praise. Maggie Cheung looks decidedly beautiful in tight-fitting traditional Chinese dresses or "qipao's". Director Wong Kar-Wai incorporates many shots of the main characters silently and pensively reflecting on their feelings and experiences against the background music
which consists mainly of a few melodies that are repeated over and over. We never really see Chow and Su's spouses; we see only their backs or hear them talking off-camera to the leads. There are also many slowly-moving or still shots of the surroundings in which the characters find themselves. Overall I find the pace of this film to be like that of its camera shots,
painfully slow and tending to drag. I suppose one could say I don't know how to appreciate Wong Kar-Wai's unique filming style. *Sigh*

Reviewed by: MilesC
Date: 12/23/2000
Summary: You don't need to read this review.

You already know if you'll enjoy this movie or not. Wong Kar-Wai fans will find this up to par; while I, on the other hand, found it less irritating than Ashes of Time or Fallen Angels, it didn't make a fan out of me. While things weren't painfully boring to begin with, I found myself getting pretty impatient after the first hour, watching many silent scenes on fast-forward. WKW's penchant for repetitive soundtracks is in full effect, with a couple of tunes being repeated endlessly. The cinematography, while fine, isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be; there's plenty of stuff here that film students will get off on, but not much that'll impress the average viewer. As for the much-praised performances, I was not that impressed. Standing around looking pensive is not acting. Tony and Maggie have both pulled off more challenging and entertaining roles. Frankly, I suspect that if this movie were not good language practice- the language is generally simple and delivered at a moderate pace- I would've gotten sick of this movie even quicker. I just don't buy the idea that a stripped-down story told with an extremely deliberate pace automatically makes for a film of superior quality. The best thing I can say is that, thankfully, it runs under 90 minutes.

Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 12/23/2000
Summary: Lovely Memories

Whether you like or dislike his films, Wong Kar Wai sparks a good amount of debate. I think much of this is due to his approach to filmmaking. Wong Kar Wai's movies don't unfold, they just happen. Characters befall the fate of being involved in chaotic events beyond their control.

"In the Mood for Love" is a lushish looking film. Whether it was due to a bigger or better spent budget, or that Wong finally found some good lighting people and some high speed film, he moved away from the grainy look. Wong Kar Wai has matured. But, this is also the most affected Wong Kar Wai film (if that can be believed). Tony Leung and Maggie Chueng play neighbors that fall in love while trying to find out about their spouses' extramarital relationship. You never get to see Tony and Maggie's spouses fully, only from behind, or obscured from the camera's view. We get the trademark Wong Kar Wai brooding male, isolated, standing against a wall, smoking a cigarette and looking pensive. We also get the claustophobic blocking and cinematography, scenes in medium and close-up shots through metal bars, windows and cramped hallways and alleyways. Events take place in dark areas and mostly at night, heightening the loneliness that Tony and Maggie must endure while their significant others are away. Rain is also another feature that Wong kar Wai uses to further isolate his characters. It's as if the characters portrayed by Tony and Maggie were sealed in a box and they were trying to break out.

Ultimately, "In the Mood for Love" suffers from its own languid pacing and melancholy. There isn't any break from one monotonous segue to the next. This only distanced the viewer from the solid acting by the leads. Maggie is the real wonder in this film, giving such a full performance at every turn. Wong finally had a budget for costumes and adorned Maggie in the full '60s retro look with the high mandarin collars and beautiful floral dresses that complemented her coiffures. Tony does a nice job here, but personally, I thought his work was stellar and incomparable in "Happy Together." The use of Nat King Cole in the soundtrack helped to set the film as if it were a fond memory. Searching the back of our minds, we recollect the sounds, the colors and the textures, if you will, of the events that take place "In the Mood for Love."

The film was filled with yearning and unfulfilled emotions that didn't quite ring true, almost as if this was a terrific exercise in style over substance. But, regardless of what the drawbacks may be, "In the Mood for Love" is still a compelling film that deserves attention.

Reviewed by: Paul Fonoroff
Date: 10/28/2000

Wong Kar-wai, more than any other Hong Kong auteur, has attracted impassioned debate on the nature of "film art". While there is no doubt that Wong has a brilliant sense of style, his resulting oeuvre ("movies" seems too plain a term) led one to suspect a case of "The Emperor’s New Clothes". The numerous awards and the indulgence of critics resulted in a certain self-indulgence and lack of progress on Wong’s part. His post Days of Being Wild productions (Chungking Express, Ashes of Time, and Fallen Angels), while beautifully packaged with Chris Doyle’s exquisite cinematography and William Cheung’s sublime art direction, tread the same road of copious voice-over narration trying to give significance to a vacuous narrative.

Wong’s 1997 Happy Together, while falling into the same pitfalls, was a step in a more mature direction. Three years later sees the release of In the Mood for Love, by far Wong’s most fully developed work, particularly the first hour. Set in 1962 Hong Kong, the uncomplicated story details the relationship between neighbours Su Lizhen (Maggie Cheung) and Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) as they deal with their respective spouses’ infidelities and the deepening affection between Su and Chow—without the crutch of explanatory voice-overs.

It is primarily a mood piece, and what a mood Wong creates. Production designer/editor William Cheung achieves new heights in recreating the milieu of early ’60s Hong Kong. The sight of Maggie Cheung, wearing daisy earrings and an orchid-print qipao, holding a floral-themed drinking glass in front of a flower-upholstered sofa and flowery drapes, is a clashing riot of patterns and colours that somehow comes across as subtle and understated, a look that reflects as well as enhances the character’s and the scene’s emotional disposition. The combined cinematographic talents of Chris Doyle and Mark Lee cannot be underestimated.

Wong has always managed to get the best out of his actors, and In the Mood for Love is no exception. Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung capture the conflicting sensations of love and betrayal in as much as the confines of Wong’s story allows. Rebecca Pan, in her first major role since Days of Being Wild in 1990, radiates Shanghainese vitality.

Few false notes are struck until an hour into the picture, after which the emotions become less true and more affected. Moves to Singapore and, especially, Angkor Wat seem contrived and superfluous. More than that, they dilute the mood Wong so painstakingly created. Thus, the final impact falls short of its initial promise. But there is no denying that the emperor’s clothes are becoming more substantial.

4 stars

This review is copyright (c) 2000 by Paul Fonoroff. All rights reserved. No part of the review may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.