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Wong Kar Wai: A Review

August 16, 2009

I recently saw Chungking Express and In The Mood For Love, both directed by Wong Kar Wai. While most of the girls in the room were fascinated by his unique style of movie-making, I was a little disoriented. One of our teachers, Ms. C, introduced the movie. She said that people either loved or hated Wai’s style of directing.

Wai uses neon blue and pink a lot. Some characters have no names, and you only see their backs. With others, you watch their whole story, but never know their names. The actors talk to inanimate objects. They carry on internal monologues with themselves and the audience. In some scenes they say nothing at all, just fly planes, or dance to music, or sit and think, or smoke.

What I really didn’t like was the confined spaces in which the actors interact. In In The Mood For Love, there is one scene where Mr Chow is smoking, and the smoke floats up the ceiling. It spreads our against the ceiling because it can’t go up any further. You see the same shop or room, the same street to staircase again and again. He also repeats certain scenes. In Chungking Express, the young girl meets the Second Cop twice in the same market place, both times while he is eating. In The Mood For Love shows the same situation repeated, with different results. Mr Chow asks Mrs Chang a question, but she says it didn’t happen like that. And then the scene repeats with Mrs Chang asking Mr Chow the question. There is a lot of play with shadows and light. In The Mood For Love, perhaps because of its concept and story, shows the shadows of the actors instead of their real selves. Because what they are doing isn’t supposed to be morally right, we see their shadows and not them. Perhaps it is another way the director alienates the characters from the audience. In Chungking Express, the light in the restaurant is from a tube-light. It seems almost like the light is meant to distance you from what is shown onscreen. The warmth that yellow light would lend to a scene is also ‘distorted’ because in In The Mood For Love, the scene in the cab is shot using yellow light and there is no warmth. The film seems to have been shot mainly at night. Ms. C said that the light, the music and the colours actually become like characters in the movie. When we see neon blue, we feel a certain emotion, the same way we feel an emotion when a favourite actor or villain comes onscreen.

There seems to almost be a fight for space. Ms. C said that the situations, on screen, become explosive, but never explodes. But they don’t become explosive onscreen. They become explosive in our minds. Everything is so slow. In some scenes you see everyone moving fast, just two people standing still and thinking, or sipping slowly from a cup.

The movie frustrated me because of the alienation, the speed, and the lights and colours. The same things made most of the class adore the movie.

I still stand very confused.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 18, 2009 10:27 pm

    Nice write-up. There’s always apple & orange, you either love it or hate it.

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