In the Mood of Love - Movie Review Essay Example

Published: 2022-05-24
In the Mood of Love - Movie Review Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Movie
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1906 words
16 min read

In the Mood of Love is a romance drama presenting the story of a married woman and married man who fall in love and are presented with the grappling challenge of infidelities. The film itself was created by Wong Kar-Wai's and is renowned for the massive shows of romance and action Kung fu. Typically, this film features the imperial Chinese traditional features. Unlike other film directors in China who present nostalgia as a sentimental fascination in the form of legendary eras of moral divisions like the kung fu movies and the martial arts films, the Wong Kar-Wai In the Mood of Love exhibits the nostalgia mood through the present critics and creating anxiety about the future. The film depicts the city of Hong Kong as a chaotic place whereby people are confused isolation, loneliness, and disconnection. The construction of this film is based on the characters, cinematography, sound, story, and editing techniques. The goal of this paper is to bring the narrative structure, textual analysis and the intertextual relation in the mood of love.

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The In the Mood of Love is mostly notable for its cinematography. The film is constructed fundamentally on the aesthetic presentation of modern Hong Kong. Every frame in the entire canon of the movie has an obstruction in the foreground. This clustering of the structure creates a sense of claustrophobia to the audience. Substantially, this effect is magnified by the propensity of Wai to give tight close-up which makes the audience fail to get the glimpse of the empty room. The breakups of the subjects of the frame into series of the stylized images such as every hand, shoe, cigarette get the close-up. Additionally, the tight shots allow reduction of the frame by eliminating the space and breaking up the subjects into distinct entities. Therefore, by separation of entities and spaces that would apparently be unified and connected to the film, establishes the fragmentation theme. Following this fragmentation, the disconnection is reflective of the modern people living in the Hong Kong revealing how people are disconnected in so many ways such as love and family disconnection. This theme is similarly reflected in the way the editor and directors of the film use the framing. Apparently, Wai liberates from the notion that movies should be constructed on a rectangular frame. Often, Wai shoots through "off mirrors," between objects and through windows in an attempt of framing the shot differently and uniquely. This brings the compartmentalizing effect of characters, situations, and actions (Gubrium et al. 2008)

From the look of the film, the structure is not only affected by the placements of things within the frame but also the presentation of color, lighting, and saturation which are crucial in forming the framework and creating the intended atmosphere. Majority of the scenes of this film are presented indoors hence eliminating the use of natural daylight or available light to enhance the creation of the loving atmosphere through colored lights. Although it appears that the textual analysis is depicted by the way light is used, this lighting is not limited in ceiling and tungsten lightning because the film also uses the neon and the fluorescent lighting. This kind of lights reminisces the city lifestyle. Additionally, the film is built on unnatural ways to produce the hyper-stylized and highly contrasted images. The addition of the intensity, hue, tinting and oversaturating effects in the shots brings the maximum impact on which the moods of love are created (Riley 43) The combination of these ambient techniques gives the vivid look of the strangeness depicted in the film giving a perception of a city covered in endless night. Additionally, the visual presentation of the film provides an aesthetic value which is different in every aspect of the narration. In contrast to the tight shots of the dramatic view, the film offers the audience with wide spaces of feelings from the eye level. This is attributed to the way colors and lighting are presented and how the framing of the subjects.


The narrative structure of the In the Mood of Love revolves around the sexual desire. The story is created from the grand design of childhood memories derived from attending cinema. The memories of watching the Kung fu and martial arts spawned the directors of the movie to boyhood fantasies that never existed in China. This knowledge and thirst for fantasy are revealed in the interplays and twist which forms the basis of the structural framework of the story.

To start with, the narration is created on the mutual consolation and engagement of platonic relationship. However, the turn of events is manifested in the affair between Leung and Cheung whereby their relationship opposes the notion of platonic formation of the story hence creating an air of mystery which is filled by the intuitions of lost opportunity and fate. The film, therefore, introduces the ambiguity of the story by developing conundrums of love and desire (Pilo 64). Despite this ambiguous presentation of the film, the story exhibits a conservative core which is unambiguous.

Evidently, the unambiguous narrative is revealed in the habit of the primary protagonists who act on the notion of sexual restraint. The film narration structure from the protagonist angle is based on the moral principles where the characters start with an emotion dictum but end up with moral control. As a consequence, the dictum of the protagonist always ends with a sense of moral triumphalism an aspect which is colored by the note of regret and sadness hence manifesting the characters inner nobility. This dramatic melodrama serves to inspire the ethical behavior of the actors mainly when the characters are beautiful like Cheung. The framework of the narration places importance on the note of restraint giving the audience implication that moral triumphalism eventually outweighs the regrets of missed opportunities. Therefore, this ascertains the narrative framework of the film as wholly founded on moral restraint and sexual desire (Keskin 64)

The story follows its English title "In the Mood of Love " which is a true mood piece made up variable and passive substances: the actors and their changeable feelings which are presented in the fleet and spaces of time. Besides, Wongs adds to the narrative structure the dense-looking scenes which reflect the combination of art direction, acting, cinematography, lighting, and colors. This creates a blend of miniature soap opera and drama bringing the quality of aesthetic into the narration. By use of melodrama actions, the film strikes the picture of the structural formation of moods.

To begin with, the film ascribes to three distinct levels of mood play which are essential in the construction of the story. To begin with, the film portrays the feeling of nostalgia as the primary mood of melodrama. The aspect of nostalgia is first created by the contemplative snippets of music which reminisces the ambiance built in Hong Kong in the 1960s. This way the elements of the nostalgia play is posed in a way that is paying tribute to that period. The second mood is scripted from the elements of love. Despite the protagonist acting in principle of moral restraints, there is a construction of the mood of love through consolation and the desire for sex which is a nexus of relationships and infidelity. The last structural mood is the melodrama, a mood which comes as a genre and a veritable metaphor of the 1960s. With many challenges facing the people living in Hong Kong city, the invocation of the melodrama offers significance sense of place and period in the story. More significant in the narrative structure is the literary vision. Visual motifs as used in the film primarily denotes the preoccupations of space and time. These visual configurations of the film tend to cover the ground by giving literary references, and this offers an absolute way which induces the relations with the narration (In the mood of Love 2018).


Textual analysis is a technique for analyzing the film to make informed guesses about how the film texts, lighting, cinematographic, music and sound among other film elements function and produces meaning of particular context. In the Mood of Love presents the intertextual presentation very well, integrating fragments of film, popular music, and literature from various countries. This textual analysis revolves around the structure, music, content, discourse, motions, screen images among others.

From a vantage point of view, the reversed and parallel structures form the basis for the overall movie. The movie creates a parallel of lifestyle lived during the era of the 1960s with the lifestyle of the modern time in Hong Kong. Additionally, the reversal structure is explicitly manifested where Su and Chow moved into the same building on the same day, but when they get to their former home, they fail to acknowledge each other. The purpose of this kind of structure is to create imaginary suspense in the minds of the audience. Alluding to the famous Robert Bresson, Wong himself asserts that " I wanted to treat it like a Hitchcock film, where so much happens outside the frame, and the viewer's imagination creates a kind of suspense" (Lee et al. 1997)

In my opinion, In the Mood of Love is like a fashion show of images. Apparently, this is veritable because Wong emphasizes technique more than the content. Wong himself ascertained this notion in his statement, " we always feel as if we're marinating in a gorgeous insubstantiality."(Yue et al. 2003) Hence, the film is more of connection between mood, emotion, image, and emotion. However, this is what makes the movie unique because it leaves the audience with a lot of possibilities whereby they are left trying to connect the images and music to form a meaningful content. For instance, the most prominent emotional attributes of the film are presented by the use of soundtrack which is repeatedly used in the various scenes. Looking at the character by the name Faye, the soundtrack is used to reveal her optimistic and cheerful personality. This soundtrack in this scene is manifesting the search for freedom. Similarly, the Shigeru Umebayashi shows the hidden monologue about love between the primary characters where everything looks more vibrant like the hidden emotions they exhibit within their bodies (Yue et al. 2003). Despite the use of the music to reveal the moods, the content is still lost in the way images are presented.

While there is a conjunction of all images and the content of the movie, most of the images in the movie present a romantic nature that seems to permeate through every shot. The movie is filmed in the stairwells, claustrophobic corridors, narrow alleyways, and the use of the seductive colors give sensual imagery which offers a contrasting texture. The images depict the sense of loneliness and longing that the people desired by the Hong Kong residents. The use of seductive palate, jade the subtle non-verbal gestures suggest the need for intimate connection that refrains from the sexual desire per the moral principle of restraint. Notably, the figure of the beautiful serves as the epicenter of the film oneiric visions. Additionally, the film uses the images to evoke commercial culture. The nexus of the image and commercialization is evident in the use of calendars featuring girls for a variety of products such as cigarettes and face powder (Quan et al. 2009)

Additionally, the movie asserts cinematography in almost every shot. The placements of the camera portray the significance of the frame by emphasizing windows, mirrors, and doorways.

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