The purpose of this blog essay is to analyses the film, In The Mood For Love directed by Wong Kar Wai, (2000). Besides that, French Impressionism will be discussed and identify the film in relation to the French Impressionism.
French Impressionist Cinema was widely used in the world of film making especially in the year of 1918 to 1929. In the French Impressionism, the usage of montage, pictorial visual as well as diffusions are mainly used in (Bordwell, Thomposon, 2010). The psychological narrative of a film would usually be emphasised more by the filmmakers. This being said, the psychological state of a character will be the centre of a film. Moreover, filmmakers of French Impressionists will try to put in the character’s subjective feelings rather than just telling the storyline as what normal narrative films would do. Other than that, other elements in French Impressionists Cinema is the editing of the film and the camera work. As an example, slow motions, distorted visual and superimposition (Bordwell, Thompson, 2010). Furthermore, the visual rhythm in French Impressionists Cinema is a notion that is to emphasise the human narration more, rather than the narrative of the film itself. This rhythmic editing produces visual that will immersed the audience to feel the character’s emotion (Bordwell, Thompson, 2010). Moreover, in French Impressionists Cinema, a lot of close ups are used onto subjective and symbolic objects. Lighting plays an important role as well, just like in German Expressionisms. The usage of lighting is to help in bringing out more feelings there are in the film. To create a feeling of confusions, putting on filters over the lens could enhance more on the feelings of the film. By having all these moods being set up, it automatically helps the actors and actresses to fully feel their characters even more.
In the Mood for Love revolves on two married couples that moved in to the same building. Both spouses of Mr Chow and Mrs Chan are always on a business trip and later as the story developed, both Mr Chow and Mrs Chan found out that their wife and husband are cheating on each other. They tried to figure out how did their spouses developed the feelings and as they were trying to act things out, they too fell in love for one another but did not move forward with their feelings as they do not want to be like their spouses.
Since French Impressionists Cinema emphasise on psychological narrative, the film In the Mood for Love tells a story on the mental state that was experienced by Mrs Chan and Mr Show. The feeling of loneliness when they their spouses left them for a business trip that turned out into a feeling of betrayal after they found out that their spouses were cheating on them. In the film, the director uses a lot of slow motion editing when both Mr Chow and Mrs Chan went for their dinner at the street as well as when they are spending their time alone without their partner around. In some ways, the slow motion shows a feeling of time passing by slowly when they are alone. Another scene that uses slow motion is when Mrs Chan watched her land lady and other neighbours playing mahjong and it could be seen from her expression that she was not enjoying her time around them. There are also a lot of close ups on subjective and symbolic objects such as the hollow stone that was mentioned by Mr. Chow where the stone will be filled with mud after a period of time when people whispered their secrets to the stone.
Aside from the facial expressions, it can be seen that the camera movements shown in the film uses a lot of low angles. Even the beginning of the film, the first scene that was shown is the female’s buttock in a tight Cheongsam. The scene was taken from a low angle and slowly being panned up. Another prominent editing that can be seen is the fast cuts used in the film. Fast cuts are used to examine the mental state of the character like an example when Mrs Chan received the phone call from Mr Chow when he mentioned that he wants to meet her in a hotel. The fast cuts are shown when she hesitated to go to the room and was pacing up and down the hotel staircase. This automatically indicated to us audience that she is expressing her conflicts. The conflict mentioned is on her choices of becoming like her husband as a cheater or not.
Besides, I realized there are a lot of shots with a lot of mirror usage. A friend mentioned to me that this means the camera is showing what the character’s self is reflecting, your true self.
Overall, I truly love the elegance of the story as the film takes place in the 60s, where the women of the time had their hair done beautifully and they are dressed mostly in their bodyfit cheongsams. I love the idea of how the director twist the storyline into making the film about the spouses who got cheated instead of the cheating spouses. It is one of a kind.
Bordwell, D. & Thompson, K. (2010). Film art an introduction (9th ed.). USA: MCGraw-Hill.
Hayward, S. (2013). Cinema studies: The key concepts (4th ed.). USA: Routledge.