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In the Mood For Love’s Romanticism

It is a restless moment. She has kept her head lowered… to give him a chance to come closer. But he could not, for lack of courage. She turns and walks away.”

A poetic opening that summarizes the main character’s relationship.  

To identify In the Mood For Love (2000) as a mere traditional romance tale, is doing a disservice to what the film represents as a whole. On the contrary, it supersedes how romance has been idealized and stylized both in cinema and societal standards, to which director Wong Kar-Wai reimagines the concept in this film and gracefully shatters those notions.

Mrs. Chan (Maggie Chueng) and Chow Mo-Wan both reside in the same residential building, who both in their respective jobs tend to work vicariously. Their spouses are often absent from their lives, the husband of Mrs.Chan travels frequently for business, while Chow’s wife’s work schedule often clashes with his, thus preventing them ever seeing one another. The spouses are never really properly introduced nor shown on screen. The husband is only heard offscreen, while the wife is only visible by showing us her backside but not her face and is on the telephone as she’s in a scene. Wong Kar-Wai no doubt deliberately does this, to reflect of how diminished their significance is.

In The Mood For Love feeds off of temp music to convey its strong emotional tones. Sejin Suzuki’s film score from Yumeji (1991) has been replaced and become synonymous more with this film, rather than its own. The undertone of the soundtrack has the sublime ability to slip on many thematic faces, while it remains the same.

The face of tenseness,

The face of romance,

Faces of grief and sorrow,

The only original piece of music was done by Micheal Galasso, and it was near the end of the as the character visits the ancient temple grounds in Cambodia, he whispers in a crack of the architecture and then covers it in mud.

The poetic passage follows:

“He remembers those vanished years. As though looking through a dusty windowpane, the past is something he could see, but not touch. And everything he sees is blurred and indistinct.”

“Those vanished years, as if separated by a piece of dust-laden glass, can only be seen, and not grasped. He keeps yearning for everything in the past. Had he shattered through that dust-laden glass, he would have walked back into those long-vanished years.”

Mood was shot in Bangkok, meticulously recreating the back alleys and noodle bars of 1960s Hong Kong. But the final sequence switches to the ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, after inserting the newsreel footage of President Charles de Gaulle’s 1966 visit. This ending introduces a historical perspective and raises the whole affair to a universal level. On a conceptual level, Wong’s insistence on the individual’s search for identity and a place in history becomes evident. His work deals with primary emotions, and Mood echoes the end of an era with pure melancholic power.

Whatever thought, emotion, feeling was stored in that hollow; forever in regret, but only forward can healing can be done.