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One step further

I’m heartbroken. I wanted to watch Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow forever, dancing back and forth in slow motion, captured in the timeless rhythm of Wong Kar Wai’s directing. Despite the titles which fix the story in Hong Kong: 1962 and Singapore: 1963 and Cambodia: 1966 — despite them, there’s no chronology to it. There are panes of glass layered one on top of another, and you peer through them murkily, making out the outline of a fruitless love affair.

They are always meeting. They are always falling in love. They are always losing one another. The echoes are endless. Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung are the iconic actors of the moment, and the Amah is played by Chin Tsi-ang, who was the first female martial arts film star in the 1930s. Mr. Ho — himself played by a matinee idol of the 50s — is having an affair, so as to echo the affair of the unseen spouses. There’s always a mirror, and when there isn’t a mirror, there’s a frame.

They interact through echoes. They cannot speak of love, so they echo the affair they’ve discovered their spouses are having. One almost thinks that the violation, when it occurs, is not that one of them speaks of love; it’s more that the mirror is broken. The dance could have continued forever if, always if.

I could write about it forever, too, but I’m heartbroken. In The Mood For Love, but it’s a very literal title: a mood is a long way away from fulfillment.

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