I feel like I’m in the middle of my own Hong Kong Week. Two days ago I blogged about taking my two little kids to the Peninsula for lunch. Sunday I’ll meet some friends for dim sum. And last night I attended the final night of Chicago’s Hong Kong Film Festival with my friend Judy. (I took number one son to the opening night last month.)
The film fest ended with the iconic 1960s Hong Kong film, In the Mood for Love.
It wasn’t my first time to see this Wong Kar-wai classic, but I hadn’t viewed it on the big screen since the movie debuted in 2000. I’ve also watched it quite a few times on DVD, but as I was reminded last night, the small screen doesn’t do this film justice.
In the Mood for Love is set mainly in 1962 Hong Kong. Mr. Chow (Tony Leung) and Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung) rent rooms with their spouses in adjacent apartments. Once the two neighbors move beyond small talk, they realize their spouses are having an affair and try to recreate how it started. Because they have nosey landladies and are held to traditional Chinese customs that look down on men and women socializing when they are married to other people, they are determined not to stoop to the level of their cheating partners.
Besides the story and the set, I loved Maggie Cheung’s cheongsams. She wore about four times as many as I’ve posted here. They ranged from colorful florals to subdued hues.
The 1962 setting was significant for Hong Kong. The Great Leap Forward in China ended (in which ~45 million people starved to death) and people in Hong Kong could finally send packages to their families up north. The borders opened and refugees swarmed in. There was a water shortage and a debilitating typhoon. But it was also a time of hope. Living conditions were cramped, as shown in the film, but people were willing to sacrifice to further develop Hong Kong.
When the film ends in 1966, China is in the throes of the Cultural Revolution. People in Hong Kong fear unstable years for the colony, so many (like the Chans’ and Chows’ landlords) look to emigrate to calmer lands.
The end of the movie takes place in Cambodia, a year after my mother took these photos.
In the Mood for Love is not a happy movie, and by the time the film ended, Judy and I were both in tears. Still, I couldn’t imagine passing up a chance to see it again in a cinema. I can’t wait for next year’s film fest.