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GUILT and SEXUALITY: In the Mood for Love

Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square

In the Mood for Love

Wong Kar-wai, Hong Kong, 2000, 98 minutes

Birkbeck Cinema Friday 5 May 6.00 pm Presenter: James Brown


In the Mood for Love is perhaps the most perfect of Wong Kar-wai's films. Mr Chow and Mrs Chan find themselves renting rooms in neighbouring apartments. They suspect their spouses (heard, but never seen) of having an affair. They're thrown together. She helps him with the stories he writes as a side-line. They fall in love. And then they part.

There's something classical in their restraint and passion. It recalls Suetonius's comment on Titus and Berenice, from which Racine spun a tragedy: in spite of himself, in spite of herself, he sent her away.

Shot after shot is instinct with creative intelligence. Films are drawn to mirrors, but they've seldom been used with such expressive sophistication. The camera pans back and forth, measuring the distance between Chow and Chan. The film is a love story about not coming together. Moments bifurcate. Speculatively, they act out different versions of events, but there's no avoiding the pressure outside them and within that will force them apart, until each becomes for the other a presence missed and a secret to be kept.

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BIMI is funded by four schools at Birkbeck: the School of Arts, the School of Law, the School of Social Sciences,
History and Philosophy, and the School of Science. The University of Pittsburgh is also a partner and co-funder.

BiGS provides a forum for innovative interdisciplinary collaboration and exchange in gender and sexuality studies. It brings together scholars working in the arts and humanities and the social sciences and encourages dialogue with practitioners in the creative industries as well as with non-academic constituencies.

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