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      In the Mood for Love
    "Mood" blighting

    Wong Kar-Wai's "In the Mood for Love" is no Hong Kong action pic — it's an anti-romance that puts a man and woman together and dares them to fall in love.


    When film and fate throw a man and a woman together, say, as next-door neighbors in a cramped apartment cluster, and the camera obsessively watches them brush past each other and mutter self-conscious hellos, well, you just know they'll be in each other's arms by the last reel. Except in Wong Kar-Wai's non-romance romance, "In the Mood for Love."

    Written and directed by: Wong Kar-wai.
    Cast: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung, Rebecca Pan, Lai Chen, Ping Lam Siu, Chi-ang Chi, Man-Lei Chan, Kam-wah Koo, Hsien Yu, Po-chun Chow.
    In Cantonese with English subtitles.

    Related links: Official site
    Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung play two Hong Kong neighbors who greet each other cordially until the day they realize that his wife is missing and so is her husband, and it's no accident that they've both disappeared together. The jilted pair are drawn together, first approaching the topic of the vanished spouses gingerly, then gradually becoming closer until it is obvious that they are on the verge of falling in love. But, she assures him during one of their many opportunities to surrender to passion, "We won't be like them."

    Is this a movie about two people who protect their dignity by resisting passion and remaining true to their marriage vows? Is it about the tragedy of a destined love denied by traditional moral rules? Or are they finally going to get together in the end? Apparently even the actors and director didn't even know how the film would end, so, like them, you'll just have to watch and find out.

    The film has an interesting look and style — apparently the suave Hong-Konger in the 1960s, when this film is set, was a lot like his American counterpart of the same time. There are other little touches that make this film enjoyable, like the period music from Nat King Cole, and the way the characters have of implying deep emotion while seeming to say something innocent, like, "What a nice tie." It's a pleasant — if frustrating for the romantic at heart — film that engages the eyes and tugs at the heart.

    FEBRUARY 26, 2001

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