Elegant film-making.as atonement to the disruptive and perverted noise made during the screening of 2046 in screen 8 last sunday, i have just watched wong kar wai’s 2000 effort, in the mood for love (fa yeung nin wa), on DVD that came in the post yesterday. the verdict? as far as a love story goes, i was totally blown away. i don’t watch that many love stories. most wayang chenta that i’ve seen are okay, bordering on the realms of cheesiness. perhaps i’ve not been watching the right ones, but this one was really good.

set in 1962 hong kong, this prequel to the ill-fated (for those present last sunday) 2046 tells the story of chow and his neighbour, su lizhen (bells ringing!). both are living in dead-end relationships, living their mundane lives with their respective spouses being unavailable most of the time (one works late shifts while the other spouse works abroad for weeks on end). things begin to get interesting when events revolving around the absent wife/business-tripping husband comes to light.

in some ways the story is simple, but like in real life, love between two people never is and this was beautifully portrayed by tony leung and the exquisite maggie cheung. the camerawork was absolutely beautiful, with each frame looking like it was painstakingly composed. i love how the characters are always framed by their surroundings, may it be the claustrophobic corridors of their rented HK apartment or the oval window of mrs. chow’s workplace. and what’s a film without cigarette smoke (it’s one of the elements in films that intrigues me ever since watching films the likes of reservoir dogs).Let's go for meehoon soup, honey. i also loved the unexpected usage of slo-mo and the freeze frame in some of the shots. watching the film was certainly a visual feast of sorts and how am i not surprised to find out that it won the best cinematography and editing category at cannes. music-wise, shigeru umegayashi’s waltzy violin theme had such a french feel to it, and the movie was also peppered with good ol’ nat king cole. maggie cheung’s character of su lizhen was ever so elegantly poised throughout, reminiscent of my cheongsam-ed teachers in primary school. li zhen had more changes of her cheongsam than padme amidala would ever have during a conference on coruscant.

the story was conveyed in nice little vignettes and the flow was alright, although i did feel that the ending was a little abrupt. then again, after what happened between chow and lizhen, it was perhaps an apt way to end the story. unlike 2046, the protagonists were more, shall i say discreet and well-behaved: the film only has a PG rating. also, in the mood for love was not as ‘bizarre’ as 2046. the significance of the number 2046 is briefly shown (albeit mentioned in the sequel itself).

what can i say? a classic. i do find myself, after watching this, not in the mood for love, but for meehoon soup. oh well, maggi ayam would do nicely on this cold night anyway.