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01.24.2002

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flick pick | In the Mood for Love 2000
Directed + written by: Wong Kar-Wai
Starring: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung
Language: Cantonese [with English subtitles]
Look for it at the video store under:
foreign [Hong Kong], drama
Watch it when youíre in the mood for
something: artsy-fartsy, lovey, nostalgic 
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: Ĺ/5 

Plot synopsis Itís 1963, and in a Shanghai apartment building, Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan move into adjacent apartments on the same day. Both are married to spouses who are constantly either working late or abroad on business, and as result, both frequently find themselves alone when they come home from their offices at night. They pass each other in the hallways, on the street, by a nearby noodle stand, and never stop to really take notice of one another, talk, become friends. But slowly, each starts to suspect that their two spouses are having an affair with each other. One day, Mr. Chow takes the initiative to invite Mrs. Chan out for dinner, and the two confront each other with their suspicions. A strange friendship, born out of shared loneliness and betrayal, blossoms into love as the two neighbors attempt to understand how it is that theyíre spouses came to fall in love with each other.

Review In the Mood for Love is the sort of movie that makes you almost forget to breathe. Itís so quiet and intimate, like whispered secrets shared at three am, and feels as fluid and fragile as a dream: you worry that even something so small as a sigh might shatter its perfect, achingly lovely, delicately sensuous mood. Itís about love but itís not a typical movie love story; this isnít some grand cinematic Romance complete with swelling music and fevered confessions, sexual tension disguised behind witty banter, frenzied kisses stolen in dark alley corners under the pouring rain. Actually, thereís a fair amount of rain, but no kisses at all: this love story develops between the lines, in spaces that happen off-screen. The emphasis isnít on the physical, external expression of love, but the emotional, internalized feeling of love, and itís this, as much as the fact that itís set in an earlier era, that makes the film seem a product of another time, a classic despite the fact that it was released in 2000. Thereís little in the way of character development Ė all we ever really understand about Mrs. Chan is that she has an endless supply of fantastically gorgeous, nearly interchangeable frocks Ė and the plotís pretty much nil, but thatís the genius of this film: it captures the generalities of love and loneliness, hope and doom so well that most of the specific events that have led to those emotions simply arenít important. What it says about love in its silences Ė a tentative touching and retreat of hands in a taxicab, two bodies brushing past each other in slow motion on a stairwell Ė goes beyond explanations of hows or whys. Itís just a feeling Ė mysterious, gorgeous, heartbreaking -- that lingers with you. óreviewed by Y. Sun

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