Directed by: WONG KAR-WAI
2000, TSPDT Rank #45
Wong Kar-Wai's most acclaimed film, In the Mood for Love, builds upon the feelings of unrequited longing which laid at the root of his playful international success Chungking Express, albeit in a way that is much more somber and meditative than that film was. The film follows a man (Tony Leung) and a woman (Maggie Cheung), neighbors in 1960s Hong Kong, who learn that their respective spouses are carrying on an adulterous affair with each other, leading them to commiserate and become intimate friends as a result. Despite the simplicity of the plot, In the Mood for Love is a master class in the limitless possibilities of interior cinematography. There are hardly any exterior shots - most of the film is confined to the characters' apartments and office buildings, with Wong making liberal use of pans, deep focus shots and slow motion to create a visual atmosphere that is incredibly layered and dreamlike.
Those looking for an erotic tale of infidelity will likely be disappointed by the film's deliberate pacing and elliptical storytelling style, while those who like their films meditative and slow-moving will not be. This is a film that gets under the skin, leaving the viewer with haunting thoughts on love, memory, time and the infinite emptiness that often comes with freedom. It is one of the standout films of the 21st century so far, so visually rich and stylistically unique that it is bound to retain its already towering reputation as the years go by.