Wong Kar Wai has long been a rock 'n' roll Marcel Proust for the art house crowd, shaking things up with his hip, funky meditations on sentimental love and loss connected with the passage of time. Best known by American audiences for his cinematic tangos Chungking Express, Fallen Angels, and Happy Together, Wong stakes out more traditional, straight-laced territory with his excruciating new melodrama, In the Mood for Love.

Wong's fan base may be most surprised at the stillness of this new entry. Putting aside the hyperkinetic blurry visuals of his earlier works, Wong favors careful compositions and warmer lighting. If this film were in black and white, it might be confused for early Bresson. Wong shoots entire scenes of Love in static, pristine minute-long takes emphasizing the distant spatial relationships between a handsome young man, Mr. Chow (Tony Leung, Hard Boiled) and a beautiful young woman, Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung, Irma Vep).

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