A man and a woman passing each other on a dark stairwell; the same man and woman trapped in a bedroom together, chastely waiting for a marathon canasta game to expire so they can separate without provoking unearned suspicion; the same man and woman walking down a cobblestone street pretending to be another man and woman, pretending to be in love, pretending not to be in love. These are some of the more vivid memories of Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love I’ve carried around since first viewing it almost nine years ago. It has remained one of the most shattering moviegoing experiences of my life. In my recollection, and that of many others, the film is the consummate tale of unconsummated love.
But now, revisiting the film after several years, this memory doesn’t fully match with what I see before me. It’s not that In the Mood for Love is any less heartbreaking than I remember it being. I’m as shattered watching it today as I was the first time. Yet the nature of the film’s central relationship is more ambiguous (and perverse) than I’d recalled, and the society within which it suffers doesn’t seem nearly as repressive. Read Eric Hynes on In the Mood for Love.