One could infer that Wong is chronicling the connection between sexual guilt and religious adherence, but Wong is not as politically open a filmmaker as that. Wong is only interested in 1960s Hong Kong as a framework for repression. In a freer time and place, Lu and Chow would be more willing to leave their spouse and start their own relationship in earnest. Due to misinterpreted social cues constricted by a cloud of general sexual annihilation, Chow and Lu are barely able to speak, let alone talk openly and seriously about their feelings and possible future together. Like in a teenage romance novel, the romance is reinforced by the walls between them. Nothing is more romantic, it seems, than the inability to be romantic.
“In the Mood for Love” indeed, because they will never get past just being in the mood.
Wong’s film regularly tops lists as one of the greatest films of all time. On the 2012 Sight & Sound survey, it came in at number 24 and was the most voted film made between 1980 and today. This survey takes place once every ten years, and we are about to have another one. Whether “In the Mood for Love” retains its current critical acclaim remains to be seen.
One thing we could all agree on is that “In the Mood for Love” is one of the most beautiful films ever made. Doyle and Lee’s cinematography is some of the best of all time, and the lush shots of gorgeous people like Leung and Cheung strolling down smoky alleys will exhilarate even the most jaded of us.
Recently, “In the Mood for Love” was honored in Daniels’ film “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” In this film, Wong’s signature romantic pain was played for laughs.