Releasing on a single-disc Blu-ray package, Wong Kar-Wai's 2000 opus "In the Mood for Love" (Fa yeung nin wa) shines in its delicately mannered and visually extravagant evocation of romantic longing. The charismatic leads Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung became widely acclaimed for their beautifully understated performances in this turn-of-the-century romantic tale. The film won the Technical Grand Prize and the Best Actor Award for Leung at the Cannes Film Festival.
Set in 1960s Hong Kong, two lonely souls move in right next to each other's apartment space. Their initially formal and polite encounters lead to the discovery that their spouses are having an affair. In the attempt to understand how their respective partners could have developed an extramarital relationship, they spend time role-playing and bonding over their shared heartaches. Over time, these two heartbroken individuals unexpectedly ignite romantic feelings for each other. However, their commitment to their own marriage vows hampers their mutual affection and they decide not to follow their hearts.
A sense of nostalgia permeates this reservedly paced masterpiece's sharp imagery. The well-thought-of shots allow the audience to carefully digest the film's beautiful period environment, clothes, and hairstyles. The impressively articulated art direction rightfully showcases the aesthetics of an enchanting romantic drama, which readily draws the viewers in right from the very beginning of the story. The exquisitely abstract cinematography spends a great deal of time examining the star-crossed lovers' reactions and surroundings.
This Blu-ray transfer is free from dirt and other age-related anomalies. Although there is a bit of visual noise noticed in darker scenes, no detrimental artifacts are seen anywhere in the picture. For the most part, images look adequately crisp and cleanly defined. Details run deep as the camerawork focuses on the two betrayed spouses' many intimate and painful moments.
This stylistic and elegant love story features a five-channel lossless soundtrack in Cantonese. The quiet and reticent dialogue promotes a palpable romance that reflects the restrained psyches of the lead characters. There are no pops, cracks, audio dropouts, and distortions to report anywhere in the presentation.
The reserved sound design aptly suits the film's varying moments of stillness and solitude. Subtle effects fill the environment with carefully weaved details. The music dominates the surrounds as repeating motifs of the score plays with lush emotionality in the mix.
The disc houses a couple of supplements including the a making-of documentary, a reel of deleted scenes, video interviews with the director, video footage from a film festival press conference with the main actors, video interviews with film critic Tony Rayns, a Wong Kar-Wai short film entitled "Hua Yang De Nian Hua," and the film's domestic and international trailers and TV spots. The package also provides English subtitles, as well as an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by film critic Steve Erickson and the Liu Yi-change story that served as the thematic inspiration for the film.
"In the Mood for Love" is a gorgeous piece of Asian cinema. This masterful work plays around the potent emotional values of those fleeting moments between two lovers who suppress their feelings for the sake of what they think is right. It promotes a slow and introspective reflection on love, longing, and loneliness. Filled with temptations and anticipations, its unique cinematic charm explores the possibilities of a potential love affair that almost simmers on the cusp of consummation. Its less-is-more type of storytelling illuminates the fragile space of two breaking hearts as they try their best to hide their feelings beneath social facades.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Tony Leung
- Maggie Cheung