Brainflow Feed

That term first came to my mind when, as a child, I’d try to say “stream of consciousness” and end up with “brainflow.” It seems to fit here.

Welcome to the ramblings of my mind. (For now, they revolve mostly around films.)

In the Mood for Love (Fa yeung nin wa)

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008 8:58 pm—Film

In the Mood for Love (Hong Kong/France 2000, Drama/Romance), Writer/Director: Wong Kar-Wai

There’s nothing like being snowed in (again) to make you cancel your plans and get back to writing your blog. It’s actually pretty cozy; I’ve got candles burning and music playing, and am almost convinced that winter would be welcome to stick around awhile longer.

I recently rented In the Mood for Love thanks to a recommendation from MF, who thought it was a good fit for some of the themes in a script I’m developing. He was right; the film was really inspiring and affirming, both on a creative level and on a human level. It’s worth renting, and watching more than once.

Set in 1960s Hong Kong, In the Mood for Love opens with two couples moving in to an apartment building on the same day. But Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung) and Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung) soon find themselves spending many nights alone in their apartments, with their respective spouses frequently working late or out of town allegedly on business or family matters.

After running into one another on the way to and from take-out restaurants and solo evenings at the movies, Su Li-zhenand Chow Mo-wan eventually start spending time together as friends. Each suspects that their partners are having an affair. At first, neither says anything, but eventually they speak out about their fears. What they never give voice to is their own feelings for one another. At least, not directly.

The neighbours begin acting out scenarios between their spouses: what they imagine happened when they first got together; who might have made the first move. Gradually, the line between fantasy and reality starts to blur. We’re left wondering how far these two will take their growing attraction.

Like Once (see the Once review from January 2008), In the Mood for Love is another beautiful study of what happens when two people with an incredible draw to one another resist acting on it. In this film, the love takes on a tangible life of its own, one that is captured in Kar-Wai’s unusual visual approach. He experiments with different stylesmixing tantalizing slow-motion with close-ups of hands and objects, sometimes showing us only the shadows of his charactersas if to reflect the way the two characters experiment with their feelings. It’s organic, changing, sometimes confusing, but always hypnotic.

One of Kar-Wai’s most striking stylistic decisions is not to show Su Li-zhen and Chow Mo-wan’s spouses. There are several dialogue scenes between each couple where the camera stays on the protagonist the entire time. It’s interesting because it completely defies what we’ve come to expect from films. Even a viewer who hasn’t studied film will subconsciously anticipate what’s coming, and when we don’t see a cut to the other character in the conversation, it challenges what we’ve come to accept as the norm.

That’s what In the Mood for Love does with romantic love itself. As we see with Su Li-zhen and Chow Mo-wan, love isn’t always where you thought you’d find it or in the form you expected it to take. And it can exist endlessly between two people who may never see one another again.

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