"In the old days, if someone had a secret they didn't want to share... you know what they did?... They went up a mountain, found a tree, carved a hole in it, and whispered the secret into the hole. Then they covered it with mud. And leave the secret there forever."
- Mr. Chow
In 2003 when I decided to dedicate my life to watching movies and maybe one day making them, I knew I had to see as many as possible. I decided that in 2004 I would see every film produced... It didn't happen, but as I scoured the internet for trailers, I stumbled across three that caught my fancy. One was for Infernal Affairs (the film The Departed is based off of), another was for House of Flying Daggers, and the third was for 2046. Seeing these three films gave me a hankering for Asian cinema. I began researching and seeking out films by Chinese filmmakers Zhang Yiomou and Wong Kar Wai and then expanded my excitement to the up and comers of Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho from South Korea and the old masters, Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu from Japan.
It was only after I had seen 2046 by director Wong that I realized it was a sort of sequel to In the Mood for Love. I loved 2046, so I immediately placed its predecessor on my Netflix queue (renting DVDs first on my folks account since '02 and my own since '08). I was not prepared for the beauty that awaited me. I was and am in awe of the staggering work that is In the Mood for Love.
For a 90+ minute movie it feels like several hours, while also feeling too short. The languid, fluid movements and the voyeuristic, cramped camera work make you want to stay in that moment for as long as they let you. Not to mention the musical theme that seeps into your bones and melts you into a relaxed jelly of ASMR goodness. You crush on the debonair Tony Leung and the intoxicating Maggie Cheung and her endless supply of gorgeous cheongsam dresses that pop her off the screen. It's an unconventional, completely unique love story.
To talk about longing in this film is to talk about this film. From first frame to last we physically feel the longing between these two characters, but it's not the longing for love that brings me in, it's the longing for truth. The two characters begin their psychological affair by searching for the truth of their spouse's attractions. Each one playing the other's spouse in their role play of the affair. Without that longing, the other, more deeply felt longing would never exist.