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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'In the Mood for Love': Wong Kar-wai's Warmly Intoxicating Tale of Longing and Adoration

In the Mood for Love (2001) is an evocative romantic drama starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung as Su Li-shen and Chow Mo-wan, neighbors in a Hong Kong boarding house in 1962. After realizing that their spouses are engaged in an extramarital affair, Su and Chow share in their mutual anguish while becoming close confidantes.

Maggie works as a secretary at a shipping company while Tony is employed as a newspaper journalist. The juxtaposition of their apartments enables casual daily encounters between the two, before exposing their partners' extracurricular activities. Drawn together, they indulge one another while practicing confrontation with their spouses. Once Chow invites Su to assist with his creation of a serial comic, they abscond to a local hotel to avoid the prying eyes of their neighbors—setting the stage for an impassioned tale of surreptitious kinship.

Written and directed by celebrated Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai (Chungking Express, Fallen Angels), In the Mood for Love is a profoundly moving depiction of unrequited love. Cheung and Leung fill the screen with their yearning passions, each intoxicated by the other yet unwilling to sink to their spouses' level of indecency. With major assists from cinematographers Christopher Doyle and Mark Lee Ping-Bing and contributions from composer Shigeru Umebayashi, Wong has crafted an unusually affecting tale of tenderness, empathy and the lingering power of human adoration.


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