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IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE ($40) is an unforgettable and incredibly beautiful motion picture, that reminds one that cinema is indeed an art form. This film creates such a fragile, delicate illusion of love in a bygone era- that one should be fearful that it would vanish if they looked at it too intensely. Set in 1962 Hong Kong, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE tells the story of two couples moving into the same apartment building at roughly the same time. The husband from one couple and the wife from the other develop a quiet friendship, which grows into a mutual attraction, yet the two never act upon their feelings. However, both find their lives forever changed when they uncover a shared secret about their spouses. Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung deliver moving performances of quiet dignity as they maintain the very formalized facades of their characters. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE is a very touching film, but I doubt that the majority of American audiences will find this romantic drama living up to their preconceived notions.

The Criterion Collection has made IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE available in a 1.66:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a meticulous transfer that perfectly recreates the film's beautiful and moody cinematography. The image is usually sharp and well defined, which brings out the details in the production design for this recreation of 1960s Hong Kong. Some of the cinematography is filtered to give the image a hazy dreamlike quality, but the image is always visually appealing. Colors are beautifully rendered in a subdued, but vibrantly accented manner. Various hues leap out at the viewer from a world of muted, earthen tones, without a trace of chroma noise or smearing. Blacks are accurately rendered, plus the picture produces a very nice level of shadow detail. The dual layered DVD doesn't display any noticeable signs of digital compression artifacts.

IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE is presented with a Dolby Digital 5.0 channel soundtrack. The mix is very subdued, which is in keeping with the low-key nature of the material. There is a good sense of ambience in the sound mix, with the sound effects remaining quite subtle. But then again, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE is very much a dialogue driven film and has very few opportunities for noticeable sound effects. The haunting musical score is well mixed and recreated with excellent fidelity. Despite the absence of a separate bass channel, the soundtrack has a strong bottom end that well serves both music and the occasional sound effect. Dialogue is crisply rendered, but I am unable to judge the intelligibility of the Cantonese and Shanghainese spoken in the film. A Dolby Surround mix is also present on the DVD, as are easily readable English subtitles.

Music and a bit of animation enhance the interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features as well, as the supplemental materials contained on the two-disc set. Disc one contains four deleted scenes, an isolated music and effects track, notes on the film's music and a short film by director Wong Kar-Wai. Disc two features a fifty-minute documentary on the making of IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, two on camera interviews with Wong Kar-Wai, a forty-three minute press conference and Q&A session from the Toronto International Film Festival, essays on Hong Kong in the 1960s, a promotional material gallery, a theatrical trailer, TV spots, electronic press kit, photo galleries, a career essay on director Wong Kar-Wai and cast & crew biographies/filmographies.

IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE is a haunting an unforgettable film about the love shared by two people from a bygone era. The Criterion Collection DVD release is utterly superb in terms of both the presentation and the supplemental material offered. If you are a fan of the movie, then this is a DVD you will want to own.


In the Mood for Love - Criterion Collection (2001)


DVD reviews are Copyright 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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