I first watched Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love around the early ‘00s. A former friend recommended it, so I borrowed her VCD of the movie and copied it using a fantastic piece of technology called “CD burner”. I watched it on a chunky white computer monitor. I remember being fascinated at the Maggie Cheung character most of all. How could any man cheat on a woman this gorgeous? I also remember thinking, “This movie is so high-art and so sad and, oh, so ‘quizás, quizás, quizás’ is ‘perhaps, perhaps, perhaps’”.
I recently watched the 4K restoration of the film in House Samyan and had some thoughts and observations.
- Maggie Cheung is as radiant, as incandescent, and as ravishing as when I first watched the film. As a non-Hong Kong citizen who has no working knowledge of what HK women looked like during the ‘60s, I take it as a fact that a woman that beautiful can be cheated on by her husband perhaps because there are many other equally stunning women just like her. It also offers this insight on the precarity of most marriages: a married person falling for someone else has nothing to do with one’s spouse good looks and character.
- It would seem as if Chow (Tony Leung) and Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung) didn’t have much to do to pass the time except wait at home for their respective spouses who were eternally on extended overseas business meetings. This was what may have compelled them to spontaneously reenact how their spouses carry on with their affair. It’s not that the cuckolded pair were inherently boring people or without any hobbies (Chow, who is a journalist, writes manga comics semi-inspired by real-life events while Mrs. Chan keeps herself busy at home and takes nightly trips to her favorite noodle stall). It’s that they were pining for their spouses and have chosen to process their pain by miming their emotionally and physically unavailable spouses’ ways.
- I would re-watch this movie even only to admire the many cheongsams that Maggie Cheung wore. As Mrs. Suen (Mrs. Soo’s landlady) had implied, the cheongsams are too exquisite only to be worn for nightly noodle noshing. Me and Mrs. Suen had the exact same thought.
- It would have made sense for the two to break it off with their spouses, but they didn’t. Maybe they knew that the snatches of time they spent together were more precious than actually becoming a couple, which, as they both knew, is rife with difficulties, temptation, and made-up business trips. And, there’d be no more goods from Japan and, worse of all, no more nightly treks to noodle alley. But, in the grand scheme of things, would it have mattered if they did end up together? Would they have been better off if they had Followed Their Heart? Quizás, quizás, quizás.