Bill Walton takes a look at In The Mood For Love ahead of Saturday’s 35mm screening and panel discussion on the Chinese film industry.
“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.”
The magic of cinema offers many tantalising glimpses into other cultures, other times, other ways of seeing. Whether it’s transgender sex workers in California (Tangerine, 2015), censorship in Iran (Taxi Tehran, 2015), the self-justification by Indonesian death squads (The Act of Killing, 2012), corrupt officials in Russia (Leviathan, 2013), or life on a council estate in Bradford, Yorkshire (The Selfish Giant, 2013) … we can always gain from such different ways of seeing the world.
In the Mood for Love brings to life Hong Kong in the ‘60s. While there is a powerful code of propriety it cannot completely crush the intense desires for intimacy between a man and women whose marriages are not going well. The film subtly explores loneliness and hope, love and betrayal. The cultural context is integral to the story. I found that Wong Kar-wai’s attempts to tackle such themes in the United States (My Blueberry Nights, 2007) did not work nearly as well.
Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung): “Feelings can creep up just like that. I thought I was in control.”
Everything about this film is beautiful, from the acting, the photography (Christopher Doyle), and the haunting music, to the design of the credits. No wonder it was recently voted by critics to be one of the greatest films of the 21st Century. This screening has been arranged with the Business Confucius Institute and will be preceded by a panel discussion examining the state of contemporary Chinese cinema.
Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung): You notice things if you pay attention.