For the sake of completeness, I thought I’d say a few words about In The Mood for Love, the sequel to Days of Being Wild and prequel to 2046, by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai. This informal trilogy were all made after the excellent Chungking Express– unsurprisingly, due to their 60s setting, they feel authentically much older. While the first movie in the series – reviewed here – was quite a confusing piece, this film is a bit more straight forward. It centres on an unconsummated love affair between a couple- Chow (Tony Yeung) and So (Maggie Cheung) (NB- the latter is a key character in the first movie, while the former is excellent in the film that “The Departed” was based on, Infernal Affairs). Both live in the close confines of an apartment block, with their respective spouses. As time progresses, they both begin to suspect their partners are having an affair. It turns out they are- with each other. Chow and So don’t intend to have an affair out of revenge, but as time goes on- and Chow moves to Singapore- they develop feelings for each other. Chow eventually returns to Hong Kong, where So is now living, with her young son. They almost meet. Then Chow goes to Angkor Wat.
This film, like the previous in the series, is true art house. By that I mean it has all the characteristics which are popularly associated with a certain type of cinema- subtle and deep characterisation, gentle and slow-moving plot, rich visuals and symbolism. As such, it demands attention- if not quite as much as Days of Being Wild. It is a slow moving and emotionally moving love story. Slow doesn’t necessarily mean bland – it can do, but here again Wong Kar-Wai – a master of his craft- tells his story, leaving yet another puzzling ending, and much to ponder, while maintaining attention throughout. Again, it doesn’t satisfy like Chungking Express does- still my favourite film by Wong- but it does offer an absorbing story with subtle and rich performances from the two leads. Oh, and it is absolutely stunning visually, with amazing costumes and scenes from 1960s Hong Kong.