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In the Mood For Love

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Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, ...
In the Mood for Love: Kobal Collection

We gave it an A

Though In the Mood For Love‘s tale is set in mid-’60s Hong Kong, cinematically speaking, director Wong Kar-wai (”Chungking Express”) harkens back to an earlier time — specifically, the elegant, sumptuous romance of David Lean’s 1945 classic ”Brief Encounter.” Here, Tony Leung (”Hard Boiled”) and the ravishing Maggie Cheung (”Chinese Box”) play married neighbors who — upon slowly discovering that their respective spouses are having an affair — reluctantly, helplessly fall for each other.

In fact, the two begin their ill-fated love acting out imaginary conversations between their cheating mates while resolving in their restraint to be ”better” than them. Later, they’ll rehearse their own agonized parting, hoping to soften that inevitable blow while creating an air of stomach-knotting suspense. In the end, their romance is never consummated. Our seduction, however, is achingly complete.