In the Mood for Mood

Wong Kar-wai continues to create impressive depth without relying on... a plot!

To some degree this may be the result of Wong's working method: He shoots endlessly, often without a real script and without telling the actors how and where any given scene may fit into the whole. Essentially he feels his way along during the shoot and then figures out how to assemble the entire thing later. This method sounds like a recipe for disaster, but Wong has the chops to pull it off. Despite -- or perhaps because of -- that fact, he manages once again to get performances from Leung and Cheung that are extraordinary, even by their own high standards.

Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow can never be happy together
Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow can never be happy together

At the same time, Wong's particular brand of cinema may not be for everyone. To an action-oriented sensibility, In the Mood for Love may not be engaging enough; it tries one's patience with its pace and the ultimate aimlessness of the story. But on a second viewing, the movie's virtues hugely overwhelm its vices. In fact it reveals them not to be vices at all but rather the necessary elements from which Wong weaves a spell that no other director alive could create.

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