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In The Mood For Love - what did I miss? (1 Viewer)

Patrick Sun

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Finally watched "In The Mood For Love" and came away strangely disgruntled or befuddled.

Spoilers below (no spoilerized text)

After an hour detailing the slow progress of Chan and Chow through months at a time, coming together (and trying to stave off suspicions and gossips by the neighbors) and never quite acting on their own impulses as they use their suspicions that their spouses of running off with the other's spouse, the final last part of the movie just stupifies me.

Are we to take from it that they never consummated their affiar, and Chow leaves for Singapore, Chan makes one attempt to phone him, but she can't quite make out any words to say to him. 4 years pass, Chan's back in the neighborhood, buys the apartment from Mrs. Suen, and lives there with her son (where did he come from?) and Chow drops by to bring a present to the Koo's, but there's a new tenant who tells Chow that the Koo's have moved due to the politcal unrest, and he hears that a woman and her child live next door, but Chow passes on knocking on Chan's apartment door, and later recounts the story of a man burying a secret, which he does in the side of that tree/wall, and the film ends.

Was I suppose to feel pure exasperation by the end of the film, or perhaps sorrow for unrequited love? I was just a bit bored and frustrated the last part of the film. Ack!
 

Pascal A

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The idea for In the Mood for Love was not to create a story per se, but to capture a (for lack of a better word) mood. It was intended to leave you wanting and unfulfilled, like the characters.
 

John Spencer

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I got from the film that they did consummate the affair, but then realized that they couldn't continue on. Thus the repeated "We won't be like them." They continue to cross their own pre-set boundaries until they finally realize that they indeed had become just like their unfaithful spouses, so they decide to break it off. When Chow Mo-Wan leaves for Singapore, he gives in to his feelings and offers Mrs. Chan the opportunity to go with him, which she doesn't. I also took from the film that the child was possibly Chow Mo-Wan's, due to the age of the child, and the amount of time passed since the liaison.
The film seemed to me to be more about the damage an extramarital affair causes, and not the two finding happiness with each other. As such, the sexual and emotional tension layered into this film kept me glued to the screen until the final strains of "Que Sas."
 

Pascal A

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I think you mean, "quizas" or "perhaps", and that in itself is an extended suggestion that we are not meant to know for sure what transpired between them.

Wong Kar-Wair purposely shot extra and often conflicting scenes in order to keep the actors relationship on-camera deliberately complex and nebulous. One can always conjecture whether they consummated the affair or not, but in the end, no one really knows, not even Wong.
 

John Spencer

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Wong Kar-Wair
So, is it "Kar-Wai", or "Kar-Wair"? ;)
I must admit, though, that my interpretation of the relationship has been colored by the deleted scenes presented on the Criterion set. There's one scene inparticular that leaves little question whether they consummated the affair or not. But Pascal is definitely correct. The way the film is presented, it seems intentionally ambiguous to keep the viewer as involved and frustrated as the main characters.
 

Patrick Sun

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Well, I guess the director succeeded in frustrating me! Hell, I even wanted a cigarette after watching this film, and I DON'T SMOKE! :)
 

Pascal A

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So, is it "Kar-Wai", or "Kar-Wair"? ;)
Er...ummm....maybe it was co-directed by his brother, and the problem lies in them not agreeing on whether or not the affair was consummated? :b
Patrick, to be honest though, I know that most people have nothing but glowing praise for Wong's Chungking Express as well, and while I do think that aspects of the film articulate a sense of longing lucidly, I found the film to be a little too fragmented. On the other hand, I found In the Mood for Love to be successful in immersing the viewer into that sentiment of missed connection and "what if". While Chungking Express feels disconnected, In the Mood for Love seemed to glide through a state of non-resolution (much like his earlier film, Days of Being Wild).
 

Joseph Young

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There's one scene inparticular that leaves little question whether they consummated the affair or not.
The 'deleted scene' in question (with Kar-Wai I hesitate to use deleted, since he is such an experimental filmmaker to begin with) left no doubt in my mind as to what was going on. Fascinating scene, though... rain runs down over window glass; inside indistinct shapes move and sounds of moaning and ecstasy (not crying as some have contested).
If you watch some of the alternate scenes, you will see that Kar-Wai chose the most conflicted, interpretable performances. In the final version, instead of the two leads talking in his room, they talk from his front door, etc. (just one example)
While in other films the copious slow motion shots and repetitive music would have irritated me, In the Mood for Love got away with it and charmed the pants off me (not literally of course).
I need to mention, although this is the Movies thread, that the transfer and the audio on Criterion's presentation absolutely blew me away. The dialogue, especially in crowded apartment scenes, is crisp and well separated. The colors are lovely (reminded me a lot of the stunning Mishima transfer).
:emoji_thumbsup:
Joseph
 

Seth Paxton

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Patrick, I too was slightly bored with the film, so you are not alone. I appreciated the beauty of the film and the subtlety with the emotions, but it was just too subtle to keep me I suppose. It lingered in my top 30 for the year, but didn't get me like Yi Yi did for example. Of course Yi Yi is far more traditional narrative filmmaking than Mood is.

However, the concept that the viewer is intended to feel the frustration that the lovers do is an interesting one. I'll have to rent it and consider this idea during a repeat viewing.
 

Patrick Sun

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Thank you all for confirming I'm not nuts (w/r/t this film, at least).
That kid still bewilders me. Who's his daddy? :)
 

ThomasC

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I just watched this for the first time and felt just as confused as you did, Patrick. I guess watching the deleted scenes along with the rest of the extras on the Criterion set should help clear things up for me. I guessed that the kid was Chow's.
 

Eric.

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May 6, 2004
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Well to me this movie is pure magic but i wouldn't expect to get it all on the first viewing.This is a movie made for rewatching and savouring like a fine wine.Everything is so subtle in this movie,every gesture and eyeglance i'll say again is pure magic.
To me it is not boring and never slow because so many of these subtle things a happening at such a rapid pace.You have to love the asian filmakers for capturing real human relationships in the romance movies that hollywood dosen't get within a bulls roar of.
2046 has been my most wanted to see movie for a couple of years now.
 

andrew markworthy

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For any of you guys who didn't like In the Mood for Love - for the sake of your sanity avoid anything by Ozu, At The Height of Summer, etc

ITMFL belongs to a genre of film-making that you either happily lose yourself in an atomosphere where the subtlest of gestures carries great meaning or otherwise are baffled by.
 

Danny Tse

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I have seen several Wong Kar-wai movies, and "confusion" is the general feeling I get from them. On the other hand, "In The Mood For Love" was great and the only film I like from him.
 

Ray H

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With this flick, I did leave feeling sad that their relationship never got anywhere. I'd definitely recommend checking out the deleted scenes. Most of it fits in the last act or so and I personally felt they added a lot to the story. The deleted scenes just make the film much more satisfying to me. For example we find out that they did indeed make love as noted and there's a whole scene where we find out that Chow remarried some skanky gal who actually tries to buy the old apartment to get the two ex-lovers to see one another again. And finally, in the last deleted scene, they actually meet years later at a temple where they stop to reminisce and say their final goodbyes (this is the same location where he tells his secret into the hole).
Good stuff in my opinion. I can't speak for the director, but I definitely would have at least left that last deleted scene in. As it is, the movie just seems depressing as hell but still good. :emoji_thumbsup: :D
 

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