Offbeat Cinema – “In The Mood For Love” : The Greatest Romance Movie You’ve Never Heard Of
"LOOKING BEYOND TODAY'S BOLLYWOOD"
Ever wondered why most of the romantic movies fail to leave a mark? Well, the most common reason to this everlasting issue is the lack of empathy a viewer feels towards the main characters, either due to lack of character development or simply because of the repetitiveness of storyplots.
However there are quite remarkable feets some movies have achieved throughout the inception of cinema. Today we’re going to discuss one such movie, that came from an industry oblivious to most of us- Japanese cine-Industry : In The Mood For Love.
Considered one of the greatest movies ever made, ITMFL is brilliant in all the aspects of filmmaking.
Set in the backdrop of 1960’s hongkong, The story revolves around two complete strangers : both the man and woman move in the same day into adjacent apartments with their respective spouses. Soon they suspect their ever absent spouses of having an affair with one-another. As they cope with their sadness by taking turns playing each other’s spouse, with an intent of knowing exactly how and why their partners started cheating. What initially starts out as a casual conversation between the duo, soon turns into a much complex web of emotions.
Lead actor Tony leung plays the role of soft-spoken gentleman “Mr.Chow (Chow Mo-Wan)” brilliantly while Maggir Cheung plays the lead female character of “Mrs. Chen (Su Li-Zhen)” with elegance and grace. Other notable characters include their respective partners whose face are never shown on camera but make appearances through either voice or shown with their rear side facing the camera – adding a Mystifying touch to the already-mystifying atmosphere.
While other films that would rely on plenty of sex and nudity (which are often portrayed in a misogynistic and gratuitous manner), Director Wong Kar-wai’s ITMFL feels like a much needed breath of fresh air. In the Mood for Love is about the doomed romance between two people trying to deal with loneliness & betrayal.
Countless factors are accountable for making In the Mood for Love a classic among the normal “romantic melodramas,” in the best sense of that term possible. First, the specific time period of the film (i.e. 1960’s Hong Kong) is brilliantly recreated to an astonishing degree of detail : Be it the clothes of the lead characters (Maggie Cheung’s lovely dresses), Or the music (e.g. Nat King Cole) or the overall atmosphere of this film, all of which makes for a nostalgic watch. Second, Cinematographer Christopher Doyle’s haunting gorgeous cinematography makes for an environment which not only envelopes its two main characters, but seems to ooze with romantic longing in every one of its sumptuous, meticulously composed frame. There are several scenes where one-in-one frame method is used, which makes the set pieces even more beautiful.
There is one particular shot where the Mrs.chan’s slow, sensual rise up a metaphorical stairway morphs into Mr.Chow’s descent down the very same stairwell; their bodily movements perfectly compliment each other, bookending the shot and causing a sense of affection duality between the two figures.
Here it is :
If you’re looking for a mature tale of love, this is something everybody must see, if only because it is one of the most heartfelt, mature and authentic “love story” out there. The reason why it works so well, is it’s incredibly grounded approach & a realistic way of portraying human emotions without diluting it with unnecessary physical intimacy. Restraint in shooting locations doesn’t hurt it, it just makes the experience even more richer. There’s a stark comparison i seem to find, between “In the mood for love” & Indian Magnum Opus “Guide” with regards to how both the movies have a not so dramatic approach when it comes to showing one’s vulnerability, high-lows and morality.
The last thing I’d like to point out is, the Japanese dialogues are no barriers, English subtitles do the job quite well and after 10 mins getting into the movie, You’ll actually forget the linguistic barrier and relish on the movie like you would with any other film. An ideal definition of how romantic dramas should be !
DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.