I have literally only just realised In The Mood for Love is a perfect film for February, the month of love. I quite like that Valentine’s Day is in February because it gets such a bad rap. It’s still winter but Christmas was ages ago so it’s not a novelty or appropriate to sing ‘Winter Wonderland’ anymore. We kinda just want spring right now. I have daffodils in a vase on my mantlepiece. Surely that means it’s spring, right?!
Anywho, back to this month’s Blind Spot film. In the Mood for Love was chosen because it’s directed by Wong Kar-wai. When I saw Chungking Express (1994), I flippin’ loved it. I loved it so much that I even remembered the director’s name and vowed to watch every single piece of moving image he had ever made.
It’s only 5/6 years later… *awkward sideways glance*. But let’s start with is most critically renowned film! It’s as good a place as any.
In the Mood for Love
In the Mood for Love is set in Hong Kong in 1962 and begins when Su Li-zhen and her husband take a room in an apartment. Chow Mo-wan and his wife take a room in the apartment next door. The story unfolds day after day as Su and Chow see more and more of each other. Thus, commencing in a platonic relationship which is pretty suss during 1960s Hong Kong. Considering the title, I’ll let your imaginations run away with you as to whether or not their relationship remains platonic.
The sixties happened everywhere else too
Su Li-zhen has an enviable figure and is a manifestation of what I imagine 1960s models in Hong Kong looked like. Still under British rule, the locations and sets incorporate a nostalgic blend of Western and Eastern. Snazzy wall paper, typewriters and secretaries, curvy furniture laden with musk and smoke. Su sports Buffon hair dos paired with gorgeous Eastern dresses in the same style in a variety of patterns (the obsessive neat side of me is gushing at how organised they must look hung in a wardrobe) tottering in her heels and small clutch to pick up noodles from a street stall.
Don’t let her enchanting beauty cloud how handsome and clean cut Chow is. Dashing in his relaxed rolled up sleeves and tie combo with slicked back hair, hands always in pockets, with soft eyes but concerned expression, you just know he’d treat you right.
It’s what you don’t see
You never see Su or Chow’s other half. They either work away a lot or featured by voice only. We don’t know who they are, we can’t picture their face, we don’t really know if they’re sweet, stern, loving, caring, unforgiving or horrid. We only have a few small details but not enough to make an informed decision. It’s difficult to care about a character when you can’t create a picture of them, which I think is what was intended. Don’t occupy yourself with characters that aren’t relevant, just the two that are.
Their relationship is tender and respectable as they innocently bump into each other on the reg as they pick up their sad little ‘dinner for one’ at the noodle stall. Their loneliness is inevitable, emphasised by the complete absence of their partners and it seems fate has poised them to find comfort in each other. The same-ness of the twosome’s routine and outfits had me questioning whether or not we were jumping back and forth in time. Their fondness grew so suddenly yet not so suddenly in tandem. You know when people say “I’m not quite sure when it happened, it just happened”? That sums up Su and Chow perfectly and I feel like I’m intruding on a beautiful dream that doesn’t make much sense but I don’t want to wake up anyway.
In the mood for beautiful film
Do I fully understand In the Mood for Love? No, I most certainly do not. Is the title relevant for a couple who never even fully confess their love? I dunno.
What I do know is that this film is the most stunning portrayal of what non-cheesy, non-make-me-gag romance films I have ever witnessed and it is true beauty like this that puts me in the mood for love.
Have you seen any of Wong Kar-wai’s films? Any you’d recommend?