Tuesday, 22 December 2009

You Notice Things If You Pay Attention.

Right, I'm well behind on my writing up. I've been sick, so just watching the films has taken a whole lot energy. I have to do Talk To Her, Hidden, Half Nelson, Borat, The Hurt Locker, Children of Men and this film, right now, to write up. Crikey, been slack.

I'm a big Wong Kar Wei fan. Well, I was a big Wong Kar Wei fan up until the early-to-mid noughties, when I think he started to retreat a little in my esteem. In The Mood For Love (or Fa Yeung Nin Wa) is often considered WKW's best work - it's not my favourite of his (that would be Happy Together) and I actually think I like a lot of his 90s films more, but it is a very good film nonetheless.

Tony Leung (who I love) plays Chow (I'm going to just refer to him as Chow, and should any reference come up for his wife, she will be Mrs Chow - this is how they're referred to in the movie), who find himself moving into a new apartment on the same day as his neighbour, Chan (ditto re: namings - Chan is played by the fabulous and beautiful Maggie Cheung.) Their significant others (Mrs and Mr respectively) are never seen other than from behind or down low, so we never see their faces, and seem to quite often be on business trips abroad - often at the same time. Seeing what might be going on here?

Chow and Chan slowly develop a friendship, and soon discover that they both have suspicions that their spouses are cheating on them - with each other. And it seems to be going down the road that Chow and Chan will exact a revenge of sorts by doing exactly the same thing. But would WKW ever be that obvious? Of course not. It is alluded to, it is suggested, but it is never specifically stated, and that is where much of the beauty of this film lies.

In The Mood For Love is a film of quiet, of slow. It doesn't rush, it doesn't feel the need to bring you drama, it just tells a beautiful story with a couple of nice, slightly depressed adults quite happily coming to terms with their place in the world. And I don't use the word beautiful lightly. It is beautiful in many ways. The story, in its simplicity, is incredibly calming. The photography (by my cinematographical god Christopher Doyle) is stunning. The performances are perfectly understated. The production design is a stunning mix of reds. Everything in the film is so gentle, but so powerful. It's true adult drama, in the sense that the themes are probably too subtle to entertain the young, but so global as to touch anyone who has lived.

Not my favourite, but very good regardless. The follow-up 2046, whilst good, is nowhere near as powerful as this. I haven't seen My Blueberry Nights, but if it's what I've heard it is, WKW needs to go back to doing what he always did best. Simple, beautiful, adult stories. 4 stars.

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