Follow TV Tropes


Film / In the Mood for Love

Go To
"It is a restless moment. She has kept her head lowered, to give him a chance to come closer. But he could not, for lack of courage. She turns and walks away."
The opening intertitle

In the Mood for Love (original title: 花樣年華) is a movie by Hong Kong art-house director Wong Kar-wai, who had previously made a name for himself with the critically acclaimed Chungking Express in 1994. Released in 2000, it is set in early 1960s Hong Kong within a Shanghainese community and tells the bittersweet story of Chow and Su (played respectively by Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Maggie Cheung) who are neighbors, and whose respective spouses have an affair with each other. While they find themselves increasingly attracted to each other, they refuse to give in to their feelings out of a sense of propriety.

It is the second part of an informal trilogy of films. The first, Days of Being Wild (1991), was (partly) about Maggie Cheung's character from this one. Tony Leung also appeared in an uncredited cameo, but it's unclear if he was playing the same character. The third film, 2046 (2004), is about Leung's In The Mood For Love character, with Cheung briefly appearing in flashback. Though thematically similar (as is much of Wong Kar Wai's work, which very often deals with the difficulty of finding love), the films don't have much in common story-wise. 2046 might spoil In The Mood... a little bit, but otherwise they're separate experiences.


Contains examples of:

  • Author Appeal: Shanghainese culture, and feelings of alienation. Both big parts of Wong's own life.
  • Babies Ever After: Subverted; Su has a child in one of the timeskips, but it's her husband's. The deleted scenes muddle this though by throwing in the possibility that Chow could be the father.
  • Bait-and-Switch: One scene features Su asking her The Faceless husband about whether or not he's having an affair. He admits it and she slaps him...except she just mimes slapping him. The scene then cuts to a different camera angle to show that the man is actually Chow and she's practicing how to confront him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Chow and Su are able to experience true love with each other, but they never get to act on their feelings and they end the story apart, with Chow admitting his secrets while alone.
  • Advertisement:
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Chow and Su never consummate their feelings and fail to reunite.
  • Eating Lunch Alone: An adult variant, the loneliness of the leads is emphasized by their eating meals alone.
  • The Faceless: Neither character's spouse is ever shown; we only hear their voices or see the back of their heads.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Averted. The protagonists, already close in spirit, discover that their respective spouses are having an affair with each other, yet they tacitly agree not to do likewise - although there are hints (not that there are anything but hints in this film) that they came very close.
  • Hope Spot: The various chances Su and Chow have of reuniting are missed, and they don't meet again.
  • Landmark of Lore: The epilogue of the film takes place in Angkor Wat, a place where Mr. Chow feels he can safely unburden himself of his secret.
  • Literally Loving Thy Neighbor: Chow and Su coincidentally move to adjoining apartments in the same building. Their respective spouses fall into this trope by having an affair with each other, as do Chow and Su with their growing feelings.
  • Scenery Porn: Angkor Wat. (That's assuming every movie photographed by Christopher Doyle doesn't automatically qualify.)
  • Slow Motion: Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung are repeatedly filmed in slow motion while walking, climbing stairs, buying dumplings, etc...
  • Titled After the Song: "花樣的年華" (Hua Yang De Nian Hua) is a song by Zhou Xuan, while the international title is from the song "I'm in the Mood for Love".
  • Twice Shy: Downplayed. Both Chow and Su seem to be aware of each other's romantic feelings, but neither one makes a strong gesture toward the other, and they end up not getting together.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Maggie Cheung wears a different Qipao in every scene, and sometimes even within what seems to be one scene, hinting the two of them are playing out various scenarios more than once.
  • UST: The whole plot.
  • Will They or Won't They?: A good question. Many viewers have admitted impatience that the protagonists would get it on already. They do have sex in the deleted scenes.