In the Mood for Love

2000, Drama/Romance, 1h 37m

142 Reviews 50,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

This understated romance, featuring good performances by its leads, is both visually beautiful and emotionally moving. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

In 1962, journalist Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and his wife move into a Hong Kong apartment, but Chow's spouse is often away on business. Before long, the lonely Chow makes the acquaintance of the alluring Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung Man-yuk), whose own significant other also seems preoccupied with work. As the two friends realize their respective partners are cheating on them, they begin to fall for one another; however, neither wants to stoop to the level of the unfaithful spouses.

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Critic Reviews for In the Mood for Love

Audience Reviews for In the Mood for Love

  • Oct 02, 2015
    In the Mood for Love is a very slow, moody, and stylized film. If in "Days of Being Wild" you can feel the humidity, in this one the feeling is like coming into an air conditioned room out of a hot day being in the city and the sense of quiet ease and nice refreshment. That is what the relationship between the main characters feels like in the beginning, and through much of the film. The main tension comes from the fact that things will inevitably change and the question is whether these two people, who seem to deserve more out of life, can get it without becoming undeserving themselves. (And on a side note, Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung both look quite beautiful in this film.) Recommended to art lovers and people watchers.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 17, 2012
    It is quite well-known that Wong Kar-wai's filmography is one of great cinematic essence, so as a long-time film fan, I am quite ashamed to say that this is the first film of his that I have ever seen. But what I have felt right at the very moment the film has started is one of immediate admiration. "In the Mood for Love", a film of quiet romantic power, is really not about love at its most denotative sense. Instead, like the later "Lost in Translation", it is a film of how romance transforms into something more than the usual hugs and kisses. Sometimes, it is not strictly eternal love that people look for but simple human connection, and in this film, it was displayed in a way that fully evokes the particular emptiness that asks for it and the gentle emotional force that attempts to fill it up. The film's premise, about two lost souls and their sudden romantic spark after finding out that their respective better halves are cheating on them, is a subtle observation about the pain of extramarital affairs. And with Wong Kar-wai's choice of not showing the two characters' cheating husband and wife's faces, the film takes on a more absolute form. They know that they wouldn't be together for a long time, but they are aware of the feelings that will permeate across time years after they part ways. And in this brief time that they share together, how comforting it is to feel that all of it shall last forever. But wait, how about their marriages? Isn't this a form of cheating as well? Well, maybe that is the case, but Wong Kar-wai highlights the fact (through precise cinematographic compositions and haunting musical score) that their romance is in no way a form of transgression; hell, it's not even romantic revenge per se. Instead, it is quite simply because of human impulse, of our tendencies to look for a hand to hold on to in our perennial struggle to find answers to our questions, and of our adherence to the concept of love no matter the emotional price we may subsequently pay. We are born to love, but hell, we are also born to be hurt; "In the Mood for Love" dwells somewhere in the middle. Stars Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (playing Mr. Chow) and Maggie Cheung (playing Mrs. Chan) are evidently perfect in their roles. In the film's earlier moments, their body language perfectly conveys their utter indifference to one another. But as the film progresses, especially at the moment when they both realize that the love they have found is something that cannot be cherished for a longer time (their husband and wife are merely on a business trip in Japan, presumably consummating their own secret love), their faces show something that suggests contemplative sadness. They hate to see each other go but they nonetheless accept it. They both hate to cut their romance short but they know that it is wrong to prolong it even more. They both know that they need each other but they just can't continue on doing so. And in one of the film's most powerful scenes, we see how they rehearse their final farewells and the subsequent pain that comes along with it. Saying goodbye is indeed a hard thing to do especially if the one you're uttering it to is the final person you'll ever wish to be on its receiving end. It is from this complex set-up that I was able to see through Wong Kar-wai's emotional maturity as a filmmaker. He is quite aware of the fact that human connection always arises from the most unexpected of situations and that love is a mercurial aspect of life that's easy to feel yet slides so easily from the palm of the hands. He is also quite articulate about the sheer transience of time and its role in reminding us that moments may fade but feelings just wouldn't. "In the Mood for Love", an artful amalgamation of style and substance, is a symphonic film about the unpredictability of love, the persistence of memory, and the gentle, bittersweet pain of harboring a beautiful secret. Welcome to my film-watching consciousness, Mr. Wong Kar-wai.
    Ivan D Super Reviewer
  • Aug 21, 2012
    I've seen rave after rave about this film, but its shorthand descriptions left me shrugging. I finally watched it anyway, and felt like my initial instincts were correct. For me, "In the Mood for Love" has two notable features. One is that the sets, costumes, hairstyles and even the film stock add up to a marvelous simulation of the story's 1962 setting -- you'd never guess this was a contemporary film. The other intriguing element is how minimalist the storytelling is. Events are pared down to the fewest strokes possible, and some events are deleted altogether. (Inevitably, the abrupt jumps in time evoke early Godard.) Beyond this, it's a dry, unconsummated romance between two people whose reserved personalities don't generate much emotional pull. And a certain string-ensemble cue is so exasperatingly overused that I felt like I was watching the DVD's menu-screen loop and couldn't find the remote control. The lead actress (Maggie Cheung) is a striking beauty, but this isn't enough to recommend the film.
    Eric B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 24, 2011
    I loved seeing how many beautiful dresses she owned! That was probably my favorite part of the movie. It was fairly slow, and it felt a lot longer than an hour and a half.
    Erin C Super Reviewer

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