The original Chinese title of this film is 花样年华, meaning “those happy times flowed by as petals”, “the flowery years”. This title was inspired from a song of Chu Tuyen in a 1946 film, and the English title was renamed when our director Vuong Gia Ve (Wong Kar Wai) listened to the song of Bryan Ferry, I’m In The Mood For Love, in post-production.
The motif that two broken hearts sympathize with each other and heal the other painful soul is not uncommon on screen. You could come across this kind of story in April Snow (South Korean film, 2005). But I can be quite sure that there isn’t another In The Mood For Love in the history of feature films. Special. Unique. Uncomparable. Unforgetable. This film became a kind of legend that most of movie-lovers try to speak highly of it at least once in our lives.
And soon, we will realize that words are powerless sometimes!
When To Le Tran (Truong Man Ngoc) and Chau Mo Van (Luong Trieu Vy) uncover the affairs between their own partners, they have a conversation in a small cafe shop, to confirm subtly what they strongly suspect. Gradually, those unexpected meetings together with their common interest of swashbuckling fiction – and their same hurt, especially – make them closer. They quietly fall in deeply love, a “sinful” love which they couldn’t afford to grow but couldn’t resist either.
May the most extraordinary thing in Chau and Tran’s affair is their limitation. They have many chances to do many things in the hotel, when they book a room just for writing fiction. But all they store for a long time in their memories before the destined day is a merely embrace.
Sometimes an embrace is even deeper than a kiss. The moment Chau hold Tran’s hand in taxi on the day they think about their seperation must be the deepest and most heart-breaking moment of In The Mood For Love. We don’t see any kiss or love making in this film. We’ve never heard the sweet line “I love you” on their lips. At the end, we know that they had “something” but both of them want to keep their beloved one safe forever in their minds (and in their hearts also).
I fall in love with the manner of To Le Tran. She’s always imperturbable. Outside, she appears calm. Inside, she’s a raging sea. The viewers can feel her ruined heart on the night she told Chau in tears that she didn’t want to return home. And they know their first time being with each other will be the last.
Both Chau and Tran want to keep the other one in peace, so they choose to leave though it’s tough. But they couldn’t leave their past and their memories. You may recall the line “You could see the past but you cannot touch it”. We cannot, surely. But at least there is a past for them to recall and cherish whenever they think of each other.
In The Mood For Love couldn’t be seen just once. Twice or three times are even not enough for you to feel it completely. But how can we understand thoroughly a film of Vuong Gia Ve?
This film is a beauty: Truong Man Ngoc herself, her traditional Chinese dresses, the yellow light in the dark stairwell, the smoke of cigarette mingle with silent nights, the unspoken moments of them, the sadness inside them, the hide-away feelings in their hearts… Each of the smallest movements makes us feel touched.
At the end of the day, you know that In The Mood For Love will be a part of you – the part you want to keep for yourself as one of the most beautiful and blessing things in your life. A secret!