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In the Mood For Love

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: In the Mood For Love

Starring: Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai
Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Rated: PG
RunTime: 97 Minutes
Release Date: February 2001
Genres: Drama, Foreign

*Also starring: Lai Chen, Rebecca Pan, Siu Ping-Lam, Faye Wong

Review by Cousin Avi
3½ stars out of 4

An intoxicating two-hour slowdance of a film, and a beautifully stylized, riveting tour de force, "In the Mood For Love", from director Wong Kar-wai ("Happy Together"), is a tale of supressed passion, played out in urban 1960s Shanghai. Mr. Chow (Tony Leung) and Ms. Chan (Maggie Cheung) are a pair of decent, hardworking residents of the same apartment who slowly begin to develop an attraction to each other. Not any ordinary one, either; this is one of light swishes of clothing, expressive glances, and warm clasping of hands. You see, both of these people, however much they know that they care for each other, remain on the verge of infidelity without ever getting to the real McCoy. Even when they find out that their spouses are having an affair, they hold back, being stiff-necked citizens of an upright society in which they were instructed not to do such a thing. As time passes, not only are you left with the burgeoning desire to know "do they or don't they?" (a question that, alas, is left unanswered, likely for the betterment of the film's provocativeness) but you come to wonder if it was in fact the incapability of these two people to express love that prompted their spouses to start their philandering? Provocative indeed.

The film's stars, Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung, do a phenomenal job of inhabiting these characters. Cheung fills Mrs. Chan with kindness and compassion, while Leung gives Mr. Chow a kind of quiet charisma, while at the same time managing to show the longing that is withdrawn by his resolve; he even holds in any anger, only providing a shoulder to cry on as Ms. Chan rehearses confronting her spouse to learn the truth about his relationship abroad, never doing likewise himself. All in all, these are a pair of vivid, true-to-life, and truly likable characters.

Perhaps the most enjoyable of the films minor touches is the fantastic musical score, largely performed by Nat King Cole. The occasionally stirring, usually irresistibly jazzy music does a wonderful job of universalizing the film's concept of temptation resisted and love that circumstances prevent from flowing freely. The film's cinematography is lush and oddly radiant, and authenticity is added when one realizes that the film was shot in a recognizable Bangkok.

All things considered, a marvelous film; let us hope that the Academy doesn't neglect it when Oscar time rolls around once again and Best Foreign Film nominees are amassed.

Copyright 2001 Cousin Avi

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