Movie poster of In the Mood for Love
Movie poster of In the Mood for Love

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In the Mood for Love is a film directed by Wong Kar-wai which is about two people who both learn of their unfaithful spouses and gradually finds comfort from each other but their expressions of intimacy are somehow confined due to societal norms. It won the Technical Grand Prize and earned a nomination of Palme d’Or, the highest prize awarded, in the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.

Its cinematographers: Mark Lee Ping Bin, Kwan Pun Leung, and Christopher Doyle used a distinct form of conveying emotions and intensity of the characters.

The style of framing the characters were usually in a narrow hallway along the corridor, it portrayed the restricted freedom that Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan had at the apartment. Most of the time, their actions were restrained by the elderly landlords. In my opinion, doors in between the two protagonists were to indicate the barrier between the two people.

There was a mutual understanding, however which was indirectly conveyed as forbidden and not accepted by the society especially the elders. Before Mrs. Chan goes to bed, the camera would usually focus on her transition from one footwear to another which enforces as a mask that covers her feeling of despair regarding her deceiving husband.

A feeling of complicity is suggested to the audience when medium close up is established during Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan’s chat. The constant filmed shots of the discreet characters buying noodles and carrying a container was accompanied with the song titled ‘Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps’ and an effect of  slow motion expresses their sensitivity and tension as they meet at one point.

Intimacy was not shown sexually but was brilliantly conveyed through the non-diegetic sounds and various shots. Under the shed during the pouring rain, the image of bars were made noticeable in order to indicate that both of them as husband and wife to their spouses are trapped in the realm of their marriage and can no longer continue the desire they had for each other. The usage of a high angle shot when Mr. Chow was whispering to the hole referred to his vulnerability and no control over the fact that his love for Mrs. Chan will only remain as a secret until the end of time.

As to the mise-en-scene of the film, the costume was inspired by the 1960s era wherein the people were practicing abstinence and were abiding by the standards of couples and proper decorum of women.

Alongside the costume was the make-up, which emphasized the human figures that aided the trait as to how well-mannered Mrs. Chan was. The movements of the characters are usually shot behind objects such as a plant, curtain and door which still pertain to their inescapable relationship with their unfaithful spouses.

Certain gestures of Mr. Chow consisted of holding materials like the cigarette, door knob, tables showed his tamed pursuits for sensual liberation.

“The drama and adventure of light” played a huge role on setting the emotions that the filmmaker would like to instill in the movie.

At the scene where their final words had been said before departing ways, the backlighting was positioned in various angles and created silhouettes that expressed the characters’ inner torment.

What other critique can you add?

(via Joselle Janolo)