Voted the second best film of the 21st century by the BBC, In the Mood for Love (2000) is as beloved as it is relevant. A film about forbidden romance and rose-coloured nostalgia, it plays out like a hazy dream of 60s Hong Kong – nostalgic for a time, or a place, that doesn't exist anymore.
Now Sydney artists Rainbow Chan, Marcus Whale and Eugene Choi are bringing Wong Kar-Wai's opus to the Opera House stage, by way of a lavish multimedia performance which promises 60s costumes and saxophone aplenty. We spoke to Chan and Whale about what to expect, their intepretations of the film, and their own memories of Hong Kong.
What does In the Mood for Love mean to you?
Rainbow Chan: It’s safe to say that Wong Kar-wai’s name has become synonymous with Hong Kong’s auteur cinema. In the Mood for Love is arguably his most important film. For me, the film captures a collective sense of anxiety around the time of Hong Kong’s handover. It also marks a significant shift in my own personal history and family lineage. My family and I had just migrated to Australia in 1996 when Wong was making his iconic trilogy. The two events collide in quasi-spiritual ways.
Marcus Whale: That which is unrealised, or rehearsed, or re-staged, or pre-staged is the central thing to the movie in the way I see it. The feelings contained in the movie are so often too intense or dangerous to be said, or need to be diverted or reflected into other things, which is why so many shots linger in the mirror or on inanimate objects like clocks, and why so much of the tension is manifested through the characters roleplaying. In the movie, we, and the characters, never actually see or experience firsthand the "love" that we're "in the mood for". It's that feeling of being in a crush you know has no potential outside of fantasy.