You may define your own banner on the settings page.
FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
Dave Chua
Brandon Wee
Wong Lung Hsiang
Felix Cheong
Foong Ngai Hoe
Adrian Sim
Chris Khoo
O Thiam Chin
Lau Chee Nien
Ambient Noise
Sarhan Rashid
Ying Wuen
Ellery Ngiam
Toh Hai Leong
Toh Hai Leong, Auteur
Wong Kar Wai
The Seduction of Wong Kar Wai
Tsai Ming Liang
Lav Diaz
Mikio Naruse
Leslie Cheung
Jonathan Foo Interview
Chinese Ghosts
Assassins in Asian FIlms
Sex in Asian Cinema
Erotic Cinema of the Shaw Studios
Homosexuality in Chinese Films
My Left Eye Sees Creativity
Hollywood Remakes
Comic Book Superheroes
One League of Social Consciousness
Emerging Trends in East Asian Cinema
Postwar Korean Cinema
Decline of Hong Kong Cinema before 1997
Rise of Afghan Films
Singapore's Mini Cinema
Creating A Singapore Cinema
Why Cinema is Important to Singapore
Singapore Film Industry
Rites of Passage
Replying to Critics
Daniel Yun Interview
Singapore International Film Festival
Bangkok International Film Festival
Tokyo International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
Writer's Block
All Tomorrow's Parties
And Also the Eclipse
Another Heaven
At Five in the Afternoon
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Bangkok Haunted
Barking Dogs Never Bite
Batang West Side
Battle Royale
Bear Hug
Beautiful Boxer
Beijing Rocks
Bend It Like Beckham
Best of Times
Betelnut Beauty
Big Durian
Big Shot's Funeral
Bird Man Tale
Blissfully Yours
Blue Kite
Bounce Ko Gals
Brighter Summer Day, A
Cafe Lumiere
Cat Returns
Chinese Odyssey 2002
City of Glass
City Sharks
Color of the Truth
Color Blossoms
Confucian Confusion
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Dark Water
Destination 9th Heaven
Divine Intervention
Double Vision
Dumlings: 3 Extremes
Enter the Phoenix
Era of Vampire, The
Eye, The
Eye 2, The
Eye 10, The
Fat Choy Spirit
Floating Weeds
Fog of War, The
Formula 17
Full Alert
Ghost in the Shell
God or Dog
Golden Chicken
Golden Chicken 2
Goodbye, Dragon Inn
Guru, The
Hana-Bi (Fireworks)
Harold and Kumar
Hidden Blade, The
House of Flying Daggers
House of Fury
House of Sand and Fog
Howl's Moving Castle
I Not Stupid
In the Mood for Love
Infernal Affairs
Infernal Affairs III
Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2
Iron Ladies 2
Isle, The
Jan Dara
Jealousy is My Middle Name
Joint Security Area
Ju-On: The Grudge (2003)
July Rhapsody
Korban Fitnah
Kung Fu Hustle
Lan Yu
Last Life in the Universe
Last Samurai, The
Legend of Zu, The
Liang Po Po
Love Letter
Lucky Number
Marry a Rich Man
Me Thao
Medallion, The
Monrak Transistor
Moveable Feast, A
Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.
Musa the Warrior
My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
My Neighbors The Yamadas
My Sassy Girl
Naked Weapon
Name of a River, The
New Police Story
Nobody Knows
Nobody Knows How to be a Film Critic
One Leg Kicking
Perfect Blue
Phone, The
Ping Pong
Pirated Copy
Princess D
River, The
Road Home
Romance of Book and Sword
Runaway Pistol
S Diary
S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
Scent of Green Papaya
Seoul Raiders
Seventeen Years
Shall We Dance?
Shanghai Knights
Shaolin Soccer
Singapore Gaga
Skywalk is Gone
So-Called Friends
So Close
Someone Special
Song of the Stork
Spider Forest
Spirited Away
Spring Summer Fall Winter Spring
Stories About Love
Storm Riders
Summer Holiday
Sumpah Pontianak
Super Size Me
Surprise Party
Swing Girls
Tale of Two Sisters, A
Tears of the Black Tiger
Teenage Textbook Movie
This Charming Girl
Three: Extremes
Tokyo Raiders
Touch, The
Tree, The
Truth or Dare
Twelve Storeys
Twenty-Four Eyes
Twins Effect
Twins Effect 2
Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors
Visitor Q
Volcano High
Warriors of Heaven and Earth
Way Home, The
Welcome Back Mr McDonald
Wesley's Mysterious File
When I Fall In Love With Both
Wishing Stairs
Wolves Cry Under the Moon
Woman is the Future of Man
Women's Private Parts
World Without Thieves, A
Zombie Dog
A Time to Live A Time to Die
e-mail me

   In the Mood for Love  


In the Mood for Love

Reviewed by Soh Yun-Huei

Director: Wong Kar Wai
Writing Credits: Wong Kar Wai
Starring: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung
Genre: Drama
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese
Year released: 2000
Runtime: 98 min
Rating: ***½ (out of 4 stars)

In The Mood For Love is acclaimed Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai's latest work. Starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Maggie Cheung, In The Mood For Love (Mood) has a very simple plot, but has all the trademarks of a Wong Kar Wai movie - wonderful cinematography, meticulous attention to detail, minimal dialogue, terrific acting and superb music. All in all, Mood makes for a great cinematic experience, and is certainly one of the best Chinese films to reach Singapore screens this year.

Mood, set in 60's Hong Kong, tells the tale of Zhou Mu Wen (Tony Leung) and Su Li Zhen (Maggie Cheung), both married, but not to each other. Neighbours in the same building, they discover that their spouses have been unfaithful to them. Attracted to each other, Mu Wen and Li Zhen ponder the possibility of starting an extramarital affair themselves. It is a terribly simple (and some might say thin) plot, but Wong Kar Wai's films stresses on form, not substance, and Mood delivers form in ladles.

The first half of Mood starts as a series of vignettes, each not lasting longer than a few minutes. In these vignettes, the audience gets to witness bits and pieces of both Mu Wen and Li Zhen's lives, but never see them really interacting with each other. However, there is a palpable, increasing tension between the two of them, and it all comes to a head when they discover the objects of their partner's infidelities. A recurring sequence in the film is that of Li Zhen and Mu Wen brushing shoulders with each other as Li Zhen goes out to buy noodles from a roadside noodle store. Each time, we see Li Zhen in increasingly beautiful cheongsams, as though she is dolling up more for trying to "bump into" Mu Wen than to buy noodles. Yet, each time they meet, only cursory greetings are exchanged. The complexity of adult, forbidden love is succinctly portrayed in a deceptively simple sequence.

The latter half of the movie shows the two leads struggling to cope with their love with each other, whilst trying not to betray society's (and their own) moral standards. To reassure themselves, Li Zhen poses the same question to Mu Wen over and over again: "We won't be like them, will we?". There is never an answer to her question. The movie moves from one cramped environment to another, the walls always threatening to close in around them, corridors that are impossibly tight and confining, reflecting the same tight confines their lives are in. The only contrast is at the end of the movie, with an epilogue set in Angkor Wat, the wide open spaces seemingly signifying the end of an era.

The cinematography by Christopher Doyle and Mark Li Ping-bin is breathtaking, and manages to titillate the senses even though a large majority of the scenes are interior shots. Bold colours are chosen for props like the curtains and Li Zhen's cheongsams, almost leaping out of the screen, and a stark contrast to the pallor of the leads' lives. Silence prevails in many scenes in Mood, and music, when present, is the same wistful tune (by Michal Galasso). Wong Kar Wai's meticulous attention to detail also helps make Mood an authentic portrayal of the 60's Hong Kong (as best to my knowledge).

Both Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung are established thespians, and it certainly shows in Mood. Tony Leung, a regular in Wong Kar Wai films (Days of Being Wild, Chungking Express, Happy Together, Ashes of Time), plays the pensive, almost sullen Mu Wen seamlessly. Maggie Cheung is as good as ever in her portrayal as Li Zhen, with several standout scenes. One such scene sees her expression (and mood) changing from one of neutrality, to anger, to intense sadness, to silent acceptance. There are few supporting characters in Mood, but the film stands firm on solid performances of both leads.

In The Mood For Love may not have a strong plot, but augmented by Wong Kar Wai's definitive directorial style and exceedingly competent performances from the leads, it is one of the best movies this year. Although some may find it to be a rather slow-moving movie, Mood offers a truly cinematic experience that can be savoured by a large majority of audiences. A film that demands to be watched more than once.

Final Word: This is as good as Chinese cinema gets. A truly savoury offering from a bona fide world-class auteur.