General Discussion of IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE

IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE: So close, so far

Brunette argues that one way mise-en-scene is used in In the Mood for Love is to both bring the audience closer to the characters and to keep the audience at a distance or remove. So, for example, close-ups are used to foster a sense of intimacy and emotional connection, but the camera maybe focused on a part of the body instead of the face. In other cases, we may be shown an empty room or hallway while the characters talk out of frame. Camera movement also plays a role here. A shot may start with the camera on the characters, but then move to a position where our view is obstructed by a doorway or other object.

Did you have this feeling of both being close to Mo Chow-wan and Su Li-zhen, but also distant? What role did the vsiual style of the film have on shaping your relationship to the characters?


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Hope Sneddon

This visual style did make me feel both distant and close to the characters. For example, I noticed when they were in the cab, often the shot was a close up of their hands. Sometimes they would slightly touch, one would pull away or they would be holding hands completely. That was an intimate moment without focusing on the character's faces. The use of this shot seemed to imply that the characters wanted to be closer to one another but they were hesitant and cautious.

Josh Noble

I agree. For me what stuck out the most was the use of obstructions and barriers within the frame. When the characters were hidden from the camera it created an unconventional scene. Even though they were holding a conversation that the viewer could hear the visual restriction of the shot created a disconnect.

Laven Voth

I think that reasoning fits perfectly, and it helps to illustrate that, just as in their respective relationships with spouses, they can be as close to someone else as possible (married), but at the same time, not even really know the other person (affair, cheating).

As you say, we see that with the effect of tight spaces, and close shots. But we are always, as an audience member, lurking from a fly-on-the-wall POV, and never really get a good look at what is going on from far away.

Lisa King

For me, having the spouses' off screen or not showing their faces gave me a different perspective on Chow and Su. Because we didn't get to know the spouses well at all, I saw the torment (or lack there of in some cases) of the affair differently than if we had met them; because it was with an unknown character.

Lauren Hiland

For me, I feel liek I did have that personal connection with the two main charcter's of feeling close to them, but at the same time feeling a bit cut-off from their lives. There would be an intense shot with alot of intimacy, then the camera would just move away so we could no longer see them. Since I never really got to see either of the main characters spouse's I didn't feel very connected to them at all. I think Wong's use of the camera angles and camera movement's really helped make the audience feel a bit distant from the charcters. What suprised me the most in the film was the walls and other barriers between the camera and the characters.

Katlyn Sylvia

I felt a connection with the two main characters through the film style because of the intimate moments we were part of. I think the obstructions in the film increased my sense of intimacy with the characters because I felt like I was a 'fly on the wall'. The fact that some of the dialogue was given while the audience was separated by a wall or another object made it feel like we weren't supposed to hear what was going on, and we got to partake in an otherwise private moment. The use of obstruction made me feel closer to the characters.


I couldn't understand what I was feeling until I read that reading. And now, looking back I definitely can attribute my sense of unease with the characters was linked to the fact that even though you felt for them they were still very "far" away. This allowed me to accept what they were doing and how they were acting, even if I wouldn't have cared about it in the first place.

Lucas Ashland

I definitely felt a distance from these characters even though I was constantly exposed to images of the characters in intimate moments. Creating this illusion must be difficult because filming was consistently done in close-quarter and intimate settings such as a family home or in an alleyway. I felt that the technique of filming a hallway, but hearing the characters speaking somewhere out of frame was an effective way to make me feel distant from the characters. I almost felt like I wasn't allowed or supposed to be in on their conversations, but instead I just happened to be there, eavesdropping on peoples lives and conversations.

Anna Markee

I agree with Brunette that as a viewer I felt both close and distant to the main characters. I think Wong's purpose of shooting at an angle that often didn't allow us to see the characters faces, gave the sense of actually being there in the scene. Since I felt as though I was a spectator at times, it made me feel closer to the characters because it seemed as though I was actually there with them. There were also times when Wong would focus on body parts other than the characters faces to bring us closer to their thoughts and emotions. One example of this that Brunette offers is the lingering shot of a woman's hand on the threshold of a door. Another is when the camera tended to focus on the couples midsections as they were walking together through the streets. I feel like the shots did give a sense of intimacy, without focusing on the emotions of the face.

Melissa Werner

I agree that the result is that we feel both close to and distant from the characters. To me, this seems terribly appropriate considering the nature of their romance with one another - to be together, but not together. You could tell that they wanted to be close, but at the same time, they were trying to maintain distance. I think the fact that this is our relationship with the characters, helps reinforce our view of their relationship.

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