221 - In The Mood For Love (2000)

I know this isn't the next scheduled film to review, but I have watched the previous films (I promise!). Problem is,  I seem to have little time nowadays (as those who follow my Twitter feed will know), so the reviews are starting to pile up. In fact, I started writing this review on the train immediately after watching the film in the hope I can follow it through!

To start with, I was pleased to be able to actually watch In The Mood For Love as I took Ikiru on the train with me the other day only to find I'd forgotten to rip the subtitles (edit: I actually had, but didn't have them turned on, whoops!). I didn't fancy starting another Oriental film without some clue as to what was happening.

Ironically, for all my fear, In The Mood For Love didn't really require subtitles. The storyline is very simple - two couples move in next door to each other and the opposing husband and wife nip off to Japan for an affair. Their spouses realise this and try to work how it happened, taking turns to play the role of their spouses' lovers.

Initially, I was very sceptical of the film. What seemed like hundreds of Hong Kong nationals were thrown on-screen as neighbours and friends are introduced. Cleverly though, the faces of the cheating spouses are not shown as their impact on the filmed storyline is mostly irrelevant.

As the film settled down on the two protagonists, I slowly figured out why Empire had awarded In The Mood For Love 5-stars. They are very keen on films with strong imagery and In The Mood For Love is up there alongside the likes of Black Narcissus and Chinatown in terms of intelligent camera-work providing the feel of a scene. Downtown Hong Kong is captured in a strange beauty that I didn't think was possible having visited the province a couple of years ago.

Of course, the lingering camera shots are never going to be everyone's cup of tea and some scenes can be a little tedious if you are unable to appreciate or understand the metaphorical picture. That said, the simple storyline does go a long way to aiding this film's accessibility.