Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.
In the Mood for Love aka 花樣年華
dir. Wong Kar-wai scr. Wong Kar-wai cin. Christopher Doyle, Mark Lee Ping-bin with Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung
In 100 words: For me, this movie defined cinema: as an artform, it’s the perfect blending of rich colors, graceful camerawork, rhythmic editing, incredible framing and angles with sensual musical choices. As an experience, we watch the central romance blossom and evoke guilt, reluctance, and acceptance, while Cheung and Leung perfectly capture the sensation of ardor and devastation with their electric chemistry and full-bodied performances. And as an auteur statement, this film best captured Wong’s inimitable style and magnified its strengths. If good movies transcend screens, set your synapses on fire, and create a transporting experience, then behold, the greatest movie ever.
Other Movies for Context: Wong is so influential. I can think of Moonlight (2016), which takes a lot of its cues from the colors and rhythms of this movie. Additionally, the entirety of Wong Kar-wai’s filmography is sublime and varied and so stylish and uniquely Wong’s. My favorite, apart from this is Happy Together (1997), which finds Wong and Doyle experimenting with colors and saturation, while putting together one of the most exhilarating gay romance movies ever, featuring my favorite Chinese male movie stars: Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung. Chungking Express (1994) gave us iconic Faye Wong and Bridget Lin and Takeshi Kaneshiro and really became the other peak of Wong’s stylistic expression. 2046 (2004) proved too diffuse and kinda rushed, but still has some gorgeous compositions and interesting storyline, while The Grandmaster (2011) gives Wong an excuse to create wuxia movie with his style. Ashes of Time (1994) was a mess that preceded The Grandmaster, while Days of Being Wild is memorable for its sensual images and sweaty vibe (1990). Fallen Angels (1995) and As Tears Go By (1988) are interesting discoveries, even if they are minor Wong. My Blueberry Nights (2007) is baffling, but worth seeking for Wong’s English-language debut.