In the Mood for Love 花样年华(2000)
Directed by Wong Kar-wai
In the Mood for Love is a 2000 Hong Kong film directed by Wong Kar-wai, starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung. The film premiered on 20 May 2000, at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Palme d'Or.
The film's original Chinese title, meaning 'the age of blossoms' or 'the flowery years' – Chinese metaphor for the fleeting time of youth, beauty and love – derives from a song of the same name by Zhou Xuan from a 1946 film. The English title derives from the song, "I'm in the Mood for Love." Wong had planned to name the film Secrets, until listening to the song late in post-production. The film forms the second part of an informal trilogy, together with the first part Days of Being Wild (released in 1991) and the last part 2046 (released in 2004).
The film takes place in Hong Kong, 1962. Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung), a journalist, rents a room in an apartment of a building on the same day as Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung), a secretary from a shipping company. They become next-door neighbours. Each has a spouse who works and often leaves them alone on overtime shifts. Despite the presence of a friendly Shanghainese landlady, Mrs. Suen, and bustling, mahjong-playing neighbours, Chow and Su often find themselves alone in their rooms. Their lives continue to intersect in everyday situations: a recurring motif in this film is the loneliness of eating alone, and the film documents the leads' chance encounters, each making their individual trek to the street noodle stall.
Chow and Su each nurse suspicions about their own spouse's fidelity; each comes to the conclusion that their spouses have been seeing each other. Su wonders aloud how their spouses' affair might have begun, and together, Su and Chow re-enact what they imagine might have happened.
Chow soon invites Su to help him write a martial arts serial for the papers. As their relationship develops, their neighbours begin to take notice. In the context of a socially conservative 1960s' Hong Kong, friendships between men and women bear scrutiny. Chow rents a hotel room away from the apartment where he and Su can work together without attracting attention. The relationship between Chow and Su is platonic, as there is the suggestion that they would be degraded if they stooped to the level of their spouses. As time passes, however, they acknowledge that they have developed feelings for each other. Chow leaves Hong Kong for a job in Singapore. He asks Su to go with him; Chow waits for her at the hotel room for a time, and then leaves. She can be seen rushing down the stairs of her apartment, only to arrive at the empty hotel room, too late to join Chow.
The next year, Su goes to Singapore and visits Chow's apartment where she calls Chow, who is working for a Singaporean newspaper, but she remains silent on the phone when Chow picks up. Later, Chow realises she has visited his apartment after seeing a lipstick-stained cigarette butt in his ashtray. While dining with a friend, Chow relays a story about how in older times, when a person had a secret that could not be shared, he would instead go atop a mountain, make a hollow in a tree, whisper the secret into that hollow and cover it with mud.
Three years later, Su visits with her former landlady, Mrs. Suen. Mrs. Suen is about to emigrate to the United States, and Su enquires about whether the apartment is available for rent. Some time later, Chow returns to visit his landlords, the Koos. He finds they have emigrated to the Philippines. He asks about the Suen family next door, and the new owner tells him a woman and her son are now living next door. He leaves without realising Su is the lady living next door.
The film ends at Siem Reap, Cambodia, where Chow is seen visiting the Angkor Wat. At the site of a ruined monastery, he whispers for some time into a hollow in a ruined wall, before plugging the hollow with mud.