Superb, subtle 'Mood'

Asian movies continue to grow in popularity with American audiences. While subtitled pictures may never find the huge crowds lured by Hollywood productions, the breakaway success of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" could signal a new openness toward international fare.

The latest film hoping to ride this wave is "In the Mood for Love," a drama from Hong Kong. The main characters are a journalist and a receptionist who spend inordinate amounts of time in their lonely apartments while their spouses spend long hours at work. They maintain a polite distance until the man begins to suspect those spouses are having an affair with each other.

What has made "In the Mood for Love" one of the most critically acclaimed films of the past year is less its story than its superbly subtle acting by Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Maggie Cheung, and the understated directing style of Wong Kar-wai. Is it simply a love story, or a sly sociological study, or - with its haunting use of Nat King Cole singing Spanish songs on the soundtrack - perhaps a new leap forward in multicultural entertainment? It's all three, and most important, it's a romantic pleasure to watch.

Rated PG; adult subject matter. In Cantonese and Shanghainese, with subtitles.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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