In the mood for ‘Love’

First of all don’t get swayed by the title.😂 I am not in any kind of mood, but yes I am totally in the mood of talking about something very close to me i.e. my favourite love/romance movie. Well, I have watched this movie many times and I was willing to write this post since a very long time, but every time I started, I felt scared, that I wouldn’t be able to justify or fully express my deep love for this movie and what I exactly feel about it. I don’t even rank it as no. 1 or something as it is much above any kind of numbers or rankings. So, I guess today I have enough motivation to write about it.

The name of the movie is In the mood for love. It is a Chinese movie directed by Wong-Kar-Wai in the year 2000, about two characters, a lady named Su( played by actress Maggie Cheung) and a man named Chow(played by Tony Leung).

If I just talk about the synopsis of the movie then, it’s the story set in 1960s Hong Kong, about two new neighbours Su and Chow, who in the set of events, are shocked to discover that their spouses are dating each other, and how this results into them getting attracted to each other, but at the end their morals stop them from expressing their love for each other.

So, I wrote the synopsis just to give an idea of what this movie is all about in short. But my greater motive is not to tell the story, but to discuss the deeper elements of this movie that makes it so special and the things that I learned out of it. I would be writing those elements in the form of listicles.(Before that if you think you need to watch this movie first as this would be a spoiler for you then you can skip my post from here😁).

1. Frames within Frames:

Right from the beginning of the movie, we notice that all the scenes are shot within a frame. Which means within the camera’s frame, there is one more frame within which the characters are being portrayed. This sets the mood of tension right from the beginning of the movie that beware you are not alone, you are being watched. It also signifies the way the society sees when two married people talk to each other, so the line is already drawn from the beginning of the movie, which they should not cross. It also signifies how much alone they both are in their own lives as Su’s husband stays abroad most of the time for business trips and Chow’s wife also is busy with her office shifts most of the time.

2. Actions speak louder than words:

Even after, they come to know about their spouses through a set of events.(Which you will notice if you will watch the movie). They are reluctant in asking each other that whether they know the truth or not.

Finally, they decide to meet and they are so heartbroken, they don’t know how to react and console each other as they both are on the same boat.

They try to figure out how this actually started. They re-inact like each other’s spouse, trying to imagine what actually would have happened between their spouses, which makes them even more sad.

3. Love transcends Time:

In many scenes of the movie, the scene starts showing time in the form of clocks located at different places. The time keeps on passing but we are not aware of the fact how much time has passed between the shots. Time remains a standard here and what actually changes with time are the feelings of the both characters for each other.

Even the same places and streets are shown again and again. I love Wong-kar-wai to be so much specific in using things for the scene. Only a director like him could be so much thoughtful about everything. Who can really see the world inside out.

4. Accepting the truth:

With time, they come to realize that they have fallen in love with each other. They realize that feelings are like this only. Creeping out of nowhere and this shows how falling in love is one of the numbest things in the world. But they decide not to stoop to the level of their spouses.

5. The right mood:

I can’t praise enough how beautifully the movie has captured the mood of love, loneliness, nostalgia. The dark and bright colors compliment different situations of sadness and nostalgia.

I remember the first time when I saw that movie I was awestrucked by the chemistry between the two characters. They didn’t touch or try to embrace each other but still it felt so beautiful and sad at the same time and it hit the right chord.

So, at the end the mood was right, love was there but they didn’t express it freely and rather chose to part ways. Letting each other go.

P.S. There were so many more things I wanted to write about but then it would really ruin your mood if you haven’t watched it. I have seen it many times and I remember everything in so much detail. But, I would prefer discussing it with someone who has also watched it.

This is not a movie. It’s a piece of art and I would suggest that watch it once in your lifetime. Movies like this are not made that often.

So, have you watched this movie?

22 thoughts on “In the mood for ‘Love’

  1. I’m totally putting it on the top of my list. Thank you so much for writing about this Pragati! I’m totally up for lengthy discussion about every nook & crook 😛

    Love it when the director tries to tell more about the scene through the subtle visuals than obvious dialogues. I’m a sucker for visual storytelling and also for romance genre. Have you watched this Korean movie II Mare?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. प्रगति

      Yeah. Do watch it and tell me your views then. I am ready for a lengthy discussion.
      Well, I haven’t watched that movie. Will watch it for sure now. But I hv watched a great amount of Korean stuff.😂
      Thank you so much for reading.😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh Pragati! Where do I start? First of all, there are “elements” of this movie which are absolutely brilliant. They have the potential to be shown in a compelling way and such was the intention of the director as well. No doubt. With that being said, the execution just fell apart.

        There are so many awkward jump cuts that it feels like non-linear storytelling but we are just going forward in time. The pacing of this movie was the first thing that struck me. The story runs quite fast throughout (in overall sense and not those slo-mos in between which also felt misplaced) and they somehow missed laying the background concretely.

        There is an unease right from the beginning because of fast cuts, developing parallel stories and the commotion which doesn’t quite set the mood for love. The focus was always on bringing the two struggling characters together and not on the dynamics which actually compels them to do that.

        The sound design is another thing that stands out. It has to accentuate the ongoing story, accompany the scene to make it interesting. Instead it feels like a mismatched harmony in an otherwise soothing piece. Starting of Yumeji’s background score feels like something that should be used in comical anticipation (like someone is playing a prank and it is about to be revealed) but then violin comes in and it intensifies the mood in a totally different direction. I don’t know if it is inherent to Chinese music but it’s so different than what I would expect to be used in such film. On the other hand, I liked ‘Full Bloom’ & ‘Ki Saas’ (sorry, if I’m writing it wrong) which were played intermittently.

        Coming to the lighting and camera movement – two area where they could have improved the most. As you wrote, they beautifully used frames in frames using shallow depth of field with something in foreground but the slo-mo where the scenes pan to some object (often wall or the clock) is so jittery than it’s clearly noticeable. For moments where closeness is depicted, they could have used soft lighting with a bit of reddish tinge (may be to set the “mood for love”). Only the diner shot came close to this. That rain scene, which could only be called the climax, could have been even more impactful with this but it looks much more realistic in the present form, so it’s a trade off.

        I loved that they developed both of their stories in parallel and not separately in the time frame. It strengthen the interconnectedness of their circumstances. They are some instances which could have been executed a bit more gracefully like when scenes are repeated with different outcomes or where they are having rehearsal on how to ask their spouses. It’s just confusing to know what exactly is going on. May be it was their deliberate choice.

        There is definite tension in this movie and I could feel it. I liked some subtle stuffs like that hedonistic friend or the way they showed the difference in thought process of men and women (she was always very critical of any of his suggestions and pointed out the loopholes). And again, it has to have a sad ending because cheesy romantic movies are so cliche, right? Well what can I say – boys fall faster in …mutual funds are subjected to market risks. Please read all documents carefully before investing 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      2. प्रगति

        First of all thank you so much for putting forth such a critical review, with your amazing obeservational skills and your knowledge of camera. It looks you have got the knack for cinematography. (I am not any pro in that, so I will be talking generally about what I really liked 😂).

        I totally agree with you regarding the frequent cuts in the movie, making it look like a non-linear set of events. But, when you watch it closely you see that every scene has its own significance in itself. It’s just you have to pay a close watch on everything going on, as missing one scene can may you feel left out and creates a sense of miscommunication between the viewers. But, I think miscommunication is the key thing that this movie is all about right from the beginning. Whether it is not being able to communicate their feelings to each other or anything else.

        Even though, movie goes in a fast pace but the repetitive scenes makes it look slow at frequent intervals. And which is also realistic at some point as there is so much mundanity in life. I think after the diner scene, when they reveal about the affair of their spouses is when the story takes a new shape and film comes to a slow pace, focusing more on the characters.

        Now, when I talk about the sound design, when I first watched this movie, I was quite impressed by the quality of music used in the movie (even though it was in somewhat different language, it created a lot of curiosity). I generally do a lot of research about the music after watching any movie. And because this movie was set in the 1960’s HongKong, at that time radio culture was quite evident. People liked to listen international pop culture music. So you can see variety of music playing in the radio in this movie. Right from the begining when the neighbours have family dinner together there is a radio playing mildly or whether the Spanish song playing in the restaurant. Wong-kar-wai has the habit of including different language songs in his movies, even if it doesn’t dwells with the background and is somewhat a bold move to carry such an experiment in his movies, which makes them stand out.

        So, when I talk more about songs specifically, “Yumeji’s theme” (Yeah, I can understand your views on using it for any comical scene.😁 )but, when the violin comes it adds a different dimension to it. I noticed that later how every song was so carefully or deliberately used. This was the most used song in the scenes depicting their loneliness and isolation when they are shown as people living separate lives firstly in the noodle scene and later when they decided not to meet for few days when, Su was lectured by her landlady. It was the first time, when the glimpese of uneasiness and love could be seen in both the characters after not being able to see each other for so many days. And after this only that climax rain scene comes, where they realize about their feelings and do rehearsal of separation after that.

        Then, there were 2 spanish songs by Nat King Cole that play in the diner scene when the meet for the first time. I really liked the way the diner scene was done not by the traditional off shoulder shots they did it by moving camera 180deg from Su to Chow and vice versa. As, it also held us in anticipation and excitement that how the other person will react. In that scene, the song “Aquellos Ojos Verdes” which means “those green eyes” and its lyrics are about longing and feeling a sense of calmness when being with a lover. Then, after revealing there is an unusual time gap when they come to accept the truth and then the next Spanish song plays, “Te Quiero Dijiste” as they walk down the street which intensifies the situation even more. (If you will listen to it and see the translation, you will understand that both these love songs were quite apt for the situation.) So, even though it was in somewhat other language and viewers might have felt lost by not being able to get the meaning but again miscommunication was the key of this movie, the mood was there in the form of songs but just like the viewers, they were not able to address their true feelings of love.

        “Full Bloom” was a beautiful chinese song which Su’s husband dedicates to her on her birthday. Now, what you were talking about was again a spanish song “Quizas, quizas” by Nat King Cole. It is one of my favourites and the most important songs in the movie. “Quizas” means maybe/ perhaps, so it suited so much in the end. It plays three times, firstly when he asks her out to come to Singapore with him, and instead of showing her reply this song plays, which is somewhat a question mark like maybe she should have gone and situation might have been different. Then, secondly it plays when she calls him from his hotel in Singapore and he picks in his office but she doesn’t speak anything, which adds again a maybe. And then, lastly, when they come to meet their landlords but he refrains from knocking at her door, so perhaps the situation might have been different but they let the opportunity pass and live with the burden.

        I really liked the aesthetic beauty of the movie and subtle things. Like, food plays a major role in many Korean and Chinese movies and I loved it how they wanted to make them feel connected through the noodle scenes or when they order each other spouse’s favourite dishes, in a way trying to understand each others lives. Then, their surrounding people, like Mr. Ming, Chow’s hedonistic friend, which you were talking about. Chow says to him, in one of the scenes that he is not like him(on infidelity). And how Su’s boss Mr. Ho was seeing a woman apart from his wife, and how Su has to handle his schedule with his wife and the other lady, which she didn’t like. But, both these sitautions were ironic. 😁 I also liked the use of pink slippers the only trace Su had left before in his room, when they were writing together and neighbours came before time. Those slippers he takes with him to Singapore, which she discovers on her secret visit to his hotel room. She takes them with her. It somewhat adds a fullstop to all the hopes of meeting again in future and also about their love.

        Finally, I really like two scenes very much first one that red-tinted hotel corridor scene where they write and discuss. It somewhat add a sense of secrecy. That is something only they both share.(BTW that hotel room no. is 2046, if you have noticed, that is the name of the sequel to this movie). Yeah. He is really very thoughtful.

        The second scene that I love a lot is the last Angor Wat scene. It adds a layer of spirituality to their unrequited love. And when he decides to free himself of the burden of secrets he was carrying.

        I guess, I have ranted a lot.😂 Thank you so much again for your view.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Siddharth bhati

        Those visuals looked like that, Moreover you’re the only one who always suggested me murder mysteries, I thought this would be same, nevertheless. I’m not going to watch this.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. प्रगति

        I thought you must be having enough IQ that you can get it from the title itself. Nevermind, I will suggest you something good next time. 😏Thankyou for reading. 🙄


  2. Loki of asgard

    Is it available on Netflix…after reading I definitely want to watch this movie
    Good observation yr…after reading I think I need to watch movie beyond just content and character……

    Liked by 2 people

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