Hong Kong, 1962. Mr. Chow, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, and Mrs. Chan, Maggie Cheung are neighbors in a noisy Hong Kong apartment building. Their spouses work late, or are out of town a lot so naturally they start spending time with each other. It becomes painfully obvious to them that their spouses are having an affair. Saddened, but self-righteous, they vow not to be like their cheatin’ spouses. They never consummate their love for each other, just luxuriate in the sexual tension.
I think this is Wong Kar-Wai‘s best film. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a plot. With music I love a great hook and melody, too. I guess I’m a traditionalist. The story moves slowly, deliberately, to its unrequited end.
It’s beautifully, cleverly shot by oft-imitated, hugely influential Christopher Doyle (who also had a mad crush on Maggie Cheung.) Atmospheric without being indulgent. OK maybe a few cliches like, slow mo shots of the rain, and billowing smoke. But with him behind the camera, it feels fresh. Many shots from behind objects, around corners, through windows, over shoulders, as if we’re spying on them. Gives their relationship an illicit feel.
But let’s talk about the clothes! My God watching Maggie Cheung makes me wanna diet. She’s so tall and slim, everything looks divine on her. And let’s not leave out Tong Leung. First of all, what a handsome guy. And second of all, putting him in the 60’s suits and ties really does it for me. This was the “Mad Men” look more than a decade before “Mad Men” with a dash of Hong Kong flavor.
Love the print on this cheongsam.
See? Put that cupcake down if you ever want to look this thin.
The first furtive glance between them.
Great vintage tie.
I'm not sure if this is a knit or woven pattern, but I love it. Sort of a vertical Missoni. Notice the front of the collar is black.
Notice the back of the collar flows into the bodice. They matched it to the back like wallpaper.
Is she not the chicest secretary ever?
Couldn't get a good shot of his tie. But you get the idea.
Again, not sure if this is a knit or woven pattern. I think probably a woven, since they're usually made from wovens. In any case, I love the pattern.
Here's a longer shot.
Lime green! So fresh.
Another great tie.
Even her older boss has a great tie. Aren't these the best widths? Not too skinny, not too fat.
First of all, I love stripes, so this had me at first look. Secondly, it's sheer. Something different.
They cross paths, avert their eyes. Violins sing longingly in the background. Nat King Cole croons in Spanish, gives it a European feel. The music sounds romantic, sultry when they’re together, plaintive and melancholy when only one of them is seen. The instrumental music also reminds me of the music in “Room with a View” when Lucy, Charlotte and Ms. Lavish walk around Florence. Even the stuccoed buildings look vaguely Italian.
I love men in a light grey suit, don't you? With a pocket square, no less.
She's helping him write a martial arts serial. She gets stuck inside his apartment while the noisy neighbors play mah jong in the common area. She dare not leave or everyone will know what they're (not) up to.
They role play. He pretends to be her husband, she "confronts" him about his mistress. Another great tie.
Beautiful, graphic, floral.
Even better with the red coat.
Just a great shot.
I love that this is a solid, but with a bit of floral detail at the edge. Unexpected and lovely.
This to me is the shot that sums up the movie. They are waiting out the storm in their marriages, taking comfort with each other. She can't even bring herself to use his umbrella (accepting him) for fear of others gossiping (submissive to society's rules.)
A classic! Costume design by William Chang. This dude also edited it and did the production design (unless there are three different William Changs working on this.) That explains the consistency of the look of the film. But no one thinks about William Chang, only how wonderful this Wong Kar Wai film is.