Wednesday 8 April 2015

In the Mood for Love ("Fa yeung nin wa")

In the Mood for Love- A work of art married with reality.


"an age of blossom
affectionate as the moon

bright as the snow
splendid is living"

There are times when a film makes you question the superiority of morality over happiness. There are times when a film leaves you in awe of the things that the most powerful form of art has carved on the screen before you. And then there are films that justify each and every shot you went through with close attention to detail for the 100 minutes you sat watching it.  "In the mood for love" offers you all of these and more.

It is set in the Hong-Kong of 1962 where two couples rent rooms next to each other on the same day. They are well off, so to speak. Of the first couple, the wife Su (Maggie Cheung) works for a shipping company and prefers to be called after her husband's name. Each time someone asks her how he/she should address her, she says "My husband's name is Chan". Of the other couple, the husband Mr. Chow (Tony Chiu Wai Leung) is a journalist. Their spouses however have names but no faces in the movie. They are "hard-working people" who have to take frequent trips abroad because of their 'work'. Something doesn't feel right. The couple are never together, with the two protagonists each living a solitary, insipid life. Soon they discover their spouses are having an affair  with each other and are internally shattered by this but act out the opposite. "I sometimes wonder what I would be if I hadn't married." wonders Mr.Chow. "Maybe happier."- is all Mrs. Chan can reply. They try to discover how it all would have begun and find solace in each other's company. The story then is about what becomes of their companionship and the decisions they make that carve the facets of their destinies.

The whole movie is a delectable work of art and what makes it even more beautiful is how it marries this art with reality. The elements of film noir fill the screens every now and then and you feel like undergoing someone else's dream, a detailed one at that, and witness the power of the moments within it as if they happen to you. Look at the scenes of the two leads crossing on the staircase with one returning from buying noodles for oneself while the other going for the same. Look at the colours of Mrs. Chan's dresses, with violet to green to red to brown. "She dresses up like that to go out for noodles?" is what we along with the characters in the apartments wonder. Much of the beauty of the film is captured in the shots of rain where the camera slowly moves over the roads as the drops fall incessantly, almost following the pattern of the camera. Another such shot is when the camera lingers on a light-bulb in the rain which may or may not be a symbol for strength of character in a world of adultery. 

Director Kar Wai Wong captures all this with a finesse that you immediately take to it. But what really defines his excellence is the manner in which he captures the tenderness of a suspecting Hong Kong society of the 60s that sees everything even though the characters in the two apartments are usually busy playing mahjong. Furthermore, the scenes of Angkor Wat towards the very end of the film provide a culmination, a justified and satisfactory one, to the story of love that the film offers.

Bandwidth Verdict: It is a movie that reaches perfection in all its aspects except one. Watch it to enjoy all those aspects and find out the single solitary 'imperfection'.                                                

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