Before in the old days when people had secrets they didn’t want to share,
They would climb a mountain and find a tree
Carve a hole in the tree and whisper the secret into the tree,
And cover the hole with mud
That way, no one would ever discover the secret…
The two lead characters in this movie (Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung) don’t even kiss once. The closest they get, is a tentative brushing of their fingers. Still ‘In the mood for love’ is one of the greatest romantic movies of all time…a timeless classic.
The story is a simple one, told simply and beautifully. It is about two people who meet, find their lives intertwined through a twist of fate, fall in love. But they discover that the very situation, which brought them together, won’t allow them to stay together. They are bound by the conventions of society and by their own innate decency. The way they fall in love without even realizing it is depicted lovingly through small details.
But the plot is immaterial in a movie like this. There’s very little dialogue too. It is directed by the great Hong Kong auteur Wong-Kar-Wai. As in all his movies, it’s all about the atmosphere. The haunting instrumental score, the red-hued imagery permeating the movie seeps into your senses and drowns you in longing and sadness.
Almost the entire movie takes place indoors. The sequences in the rain shot in narrow by-lanes, the smoke curling up slowly towards the roof, Maggie waiting at a roadside food stall…even the most ordinary of scenes is transformed into an indelible image by the awe-inspiring cinematography.
Tony Leung won the best actor at Cannes in 2000 for his portrayal in this movie. And did he deserve it. Through a mere glance, he bares the depths of his heart, as you could never have imagined. And Maggie Cheung looks heart breakingly beautiful.
What happens at the climax of this movie is inevitable. It follows the logical sequence of the plot. This is one of the movies where you hope for a clichéd Hollywood ending, which is not to be. But then it wouldn’t be the movie it is…a movie about love and its memories…that stay forever, even when the love is long gone.