"It is a restless moment. She has kept her head lowered, to give him a chance to come closer. But he could not, for lack of courage. She turns and walks away."
- Onscreen text that opens the film
"You're too polite."
- Mrs. Suen (Rebecca Pan) to Su Li-Zhen (Maggie Cheung) and then later to Chow Mo-Wan (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai)
"If your wife wasn't so attractive, she'd be a worried woman."
- Ah-Ping (Siu Ping-Lam) to Chow Mo-Wan, chastising him for working so late.
"You notice things if you pay attention."--Su Li-Zhen to Mister Ho (Lai Chin) "You have my husband down pat. He's a real sweet talker."
- Su Li-Zhen to Chow Mo-Wan
"We won't be like them."
- Su Li-Zhen to Chow Mo-Wan
"I'm just an average guy, I don't have secrets like you."
- Ah-Ping to Chow Mo-Wan
"That era has passed. Nothing that belonged to it exists any more. He remembers those vanished years. As though looking through a dusty window pane, the past is something he could see, but not touch. And everything he sees is blurred and indistinct."
- Onscreen text that closes the film
Box Office - 11/01/2000
"...This is an astonishingly rich and multi-layered film that is possibly the director's finest to date..." -- 4 out of 5 stars
Movieline's Hollywood Life - 02/01/2001
"...Haunting....[The stars] generate potent sexual chemistry..."
Entertainment Weekly - 02/16/2001
"...It dazzles....As mood goes, this reticent, remembered romance is quietly erotic, probing all those 'almost' spaces in an almost love affair. As cinematography goes, it's luscious..."
Los Angeles Times - 02/02/2001
"...A swooningly cinematic exploration of romantic longing, both restrained and sensual, luxuriating in color, texture and sound, this film raises its fascination with enveloping atmosphere and suppressed emotion to a ravishing, almost hypnotic level..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 02/16/2001
"...A lush story of unrequited love that looks the way its songs sound....The deep colors of film noir saturate the scenes..."
IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE centers around Chow Mo-Wan (Tony Leung) and Su Li-Zhen (Maggie Cheung), neighbors living in a crowded apartment building in 1962 Hong Kong. Both married to people who are always away, they spend many nights home alone. The two make each other's acquaintance and soon find that they have a lot in common: Both enjoy martial arts, frequent the same noodle stand--and eventually discover that their spouses are cheating on them. (Mo-Wan's wife is having an affair with Li-Zhen's husband.) Hurt and angry, they find comfort in their growing friendship even as they resolve not to be like their unfaithful mates.
Wong Kar-Wai's seventh film reunites him with Leung and Cheung, who provide perfectly evocative performances as the two hesitant would-be lovers. A slight departure from his more recent films (in which he used hyperkinetic camera movements to reflect the frenetic pace of modern Hong Kong life), here Wong uses fixed shots and stages static tableaus to capture a lost historical moment. Yet the film is filled with Wong's unique style, with its lush pageantry of colors, sounds, and images. A thoughtful and provocative exploration of memory, tradition, historical change, inevitability, and love, this vivid period piece offers a rich cinematic experience.
Big City |
Essential Cinema |
Hong Kong |
Love Story |
Theatrical Release: February 2, 2001 (NY). February 9, 2001 (LA). February 16, 2001 (NATIONAL).
The film was shot on location in Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Angkor Wat.
The year in which the story begins, 1962, is the year Wong Kar-Wai and his family first moved to Hong Kong from Shanghai.
Shooting for the film was contracted to last three months yet extended to a year and a half, partly because of the Asian economic crisis and partly as a result of Wong Kar-Wai's improvisational style. The cast and crew had four different wrap parties.
Both stars of the film managed to shoot other films during the year and a half it took to shoot IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai acted in the caper film TOKYO RAIDERS, and Maggie Cheung appeared in the San Francisco-set romantic comedy SAUSALITO.
Wong Kar-Wai first wanted to call his film SECRETS but was told there were too many films with the word "secrets" in the title. He came upon the eventual title while listening to Bryan Ferry's cover of the song "I'm in the Mood for Love."
Siu Ping-Lam was a propmaster in the Hong Kong industry for years and worked on several of Wong Kar-Wai's films. He was serving as propmaster on IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE when Wong decided that Siu had the perfect 1960s look. He wrote in the Ah-Ping character halfway through the shooting and gave Siu his first acting job.
The room that Chow Mo-Wan rents to write in is room 2046; 2046 is the title of Wong Kar-Wai's follow-up project.
Wong Kar-Wai had Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Maggie Cheung in mind as the leads from the start. Wong worked with both stars for his DAYS OF BEING WILD and ASHES OF TIME, in AS TEARS GO BY with Cheung, and in CHUNGKING EXPRESS and HAPPY TOGETHER with Leung.
To help Cheung with her characterization, Wong Kar-Wai instructed her to imagine her role in IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE as the same character she played in DAYS OF BEING WILD, only 10 years older. Although not stated explicitly (she answers, "My husband's name is Chan" whenever someone asks her name), Cheung's character is officially listed as Su Li-Zhen, which is the same name as her character in DAYS OF BEING WILD.
The film was initially to follow the characters through 1977 but, because of time constraints and length restrictions, ends in 1966.
the soundtrack includes three songs sung by Nat King Cole--in Spanish.
Regarding the setting of the film, Wong said, "I wasn't really trying to make a film about Hong Kong in 1962. It was more that I wanted to make a film about my memories of that time."
Wong told the New York Daily News, "I had Hitchcock in mind [when making IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE]. There are so many things happening outside the frame in this movie--like the husband and wife's affair. To me, there's something a bit like Hitchcock in that, and also in the way Maggie and Tony's characters start out trying to analyze that other affair, and somehow end up in the same situation."
Maggie Cheung wears a series of beautifully loud and colorful cheongsams throughout the film; she said, "When I finally began to get these tight dresses, I was so against them. I couldn't even lift my arms. Sometimes I would just turn my head and all the buttons would pop off. I thought, how can I act with so many limitations'...It wasn't until near the end of the shoot that I really felt comfortable and saw that my character needs all this dressing up to create this wall between herself and other people. So it was actually the limitations that made the part complete for me."
The film took so long to make (15 months) that director of photography Mark Lin had to finish shooting the film after Christopher Doyle had to leave for other commitments.
IIN THE MOOD FOR LOVE was originally going to be called THREE STORIES ABOUT FOOD and contain three different tales.
Wong actually shot a love scene between the two main characters but never intended it to be shown in the film; he shot it to affect the relationship between them.