In the Mood for Love (dir. Wong Kar-wai)
Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love has both haunted and inspired for the ten years following its release. Seldomly is a film so monumental in emotion, yet so minimal in its scope – In the Mood for Love’s 1960s Hong Kong city backdrop literally drops away in the on-screen presence of aching lovers Tony Leung (rightful winner of the Best Actor award at the 2000 Cannes film festival) and Maggie Cheung. We barely even notice anyone else exists – for them, trapped in marriages with other people whom we as audience never even fully see, it’s clear no-one else does.
There’s no sordid lipstick traces to be found – this isn’t that kind of love story. Christopher Doyle’s awe-inspiring cinematography (dress collars, shaking hips, steaming bowls of noodles) splashes the tiniest of details across gorgeous widescreen, and Kar-wai unfolds the narrative like deconstructing delicate origami. It’s a cinematic experience both exhilarating and exhausting, and throughout the rest of the decade (including with the chilly, remote 2004 sequel 2046), even Kar-wai couldn’t surpass it.