Sunday, January 09, 2005

In the Mood for Deleted Scenes: The Coda to Wong Kar-Wai's 60s trilogy

Continuing the journey into blog obscurity, I'm going to take a look at the deleted scenes from a film that very few people saw, in relation to a film that hasn't even been released here in the States. However, it's a great film, and the deleted scens add a lot to the universe of the story, the 60s Wong Kar-Wai verse.

In the Mood For Love is all about the unrequited love between Chow and Su Li-Zhen. They are neighbors, each married, and their spouses are having an affair. This puts them in an awkward position. Clearly, both of their marriages lack passion, with everyone consumed in work and alienated from each other. Chow and Su Li-Zhen grow closer together, as they try to first solve the mystery of whether an affair is going on, and then acting out how they think the affair came about. In the second half of the film, they're brought together writing a martial arts serial, at Chow's secret apartment, apartment 2046. The thing I like about this section of the film is the ambiguity. We're not sure exactly what's up with the two of them, except for the fact that they're clearly in love, and belong with each other, except that neither of them can pull the trigger, which leads to the ending, where Chow goes off to Singapore, having missed SLZ's calls to him, saying that she'd like to go with him. Three years later, Chow is in Cambodia, speaking his secrets into a hole, unable to reconnect with SLZ.

For all I knew, the next chunk of their tale was in the film 2046. Here, we follow Chow, who is living an extreme bachelor lifestyle, a reaction to the opportunities he missed with SLZ. Chow has put SLZ on a pedestal, and can't see past her. He becomes involved with a number of women, but can't allow himself to love them. At the end of the film, we're led to believe that he'll continue on this path for the rest of his life, doomed to a life of unhappiness because he had the chance for love in the past and missed it. He'll forever be trying to get to 2046, where you can find lost memories, and nothing ever changes.

However, that was not the end of the story. I was going through the In the Mood for Love DVD bonus features and found some deleted scenes. Now, WKW shoots a ton of stuff for each of his films, so I was expecting some pretty crazy stuff in the deleted scenes section. What I was not expecting was a coda for the whole story, but that's what I got, about 15 minutes of footage that answers almost all the questions you have left after 2046. Now, is the footage canon in the world of the story? I'm not sure, but I feel like it fits in with what came before, and thematically it's right there with 2046.

The first deleted scene is "Postcards." In this scene, we hear a radio broadcast, in which Chow sends birthday greetings to SLZ. Later, SLZ gets tickets to Singapore from her boss, and goes there. While there, she seeks out Chow, but ends up having dinner with Ah Ping. It's pretty clear that she is still in love with him, and if he was there, she probably would have finally said how she felt, it's just he wasn't, so another moment passes.

The second scene, chronologically is "A Lost Encounter," which occurs directly before what is now the end of In the Mood For Love. While in Cambodia, Chow runs into SLZ, and asks her if she called him before he left for Singapore, which she did. She says she can't remember. Here, we see Chow reaching out to her, but she rejects him, and it probably leads to the lifestyle we see him leading in 2046.

The 70s is my favorite of the deleted scenes, and is a coda for both films. At the beginning, we see a woman looking to rent SLZ's apartment. SLZ has stayed alone in Hong Kong, while her husband and son have gone abroad. She'll stay there until she sells the house. When the woman leaves, we find out that the house has already been sold, but SLZ is staying there anyway. Then, we find out that the woman is actually Chow's current girlfriend, and she wants him to go to the apartment and confront SLZ, because she thinks that he is still obsessed with her. Lulu, the woman here, is the same as Bai Ling in 2046, someone who loves Chow, but he still can't commit to her. She is trying to make him confront the past, but he can't do it. He's too scared. However, eventually we end up back at the noodle bar, where SLZ and Chow first met. She sees him emerge from the smoke, and they stare at each other, but we never hear what they say to each other. The scene cuts, and we find out that SLZ is ready to move on now. She tells her husband she's coming to join him, however, she's clearly profoundly sad.

What happened when they met in the noodle bar? I'd imagine they both desperately wanted to say everything they felt, but ended up just making small talk, or possibly not even talking at all, and just staring at each other. It's clearly not something good, SLZ did not get closure, so much as give up her dream. It clearly still haunts her, and she is far from happy. Tony will continue in the same pattern until he's too old to get girls anymore, at which point, he'll spend the rest of his life alone. Bit of a downer ending, that.

I love these scenes because the one thing I felt 2046 was missing was Maggie Cheung. She's glimpsed, but I needed just a little bit more, and this gave me that, though I still desperately want to see the Maggie Cheung robot scene, which will hopefully turn up on a Criterion release of 2046. I'd love to get another coda, from the 2046 deleted scenes.

Another thing to love about the scenes is we get a glimpse of a new time period, the 70s. I love the look of Mood, but it's something WKW has covered a lot, so it's really cool to see the 70s, as seen by WKW. Tony Leung has some awesome glasses, and Maggie Cheung looks really cool, with an awesome coat. When you see them together, separated by the steam, it's beautiful. I'd love to have seen more 70s stuff, it feels much more now than the 60s stuff, which seemed very removed from today, style wise. Emotionally, it's all timeless stuff.

The other scenes tell you a lot as well. It's painful to watch these two people destroy themselves because they can't tell the truth, but their awkward attempts to broach the subject are all too real.

So, in an ideal world, you'd watch Days of Being Wild, then In the Mood for Love, the n 2046, then the In the Mood For Love deleted scenes, and hopefully one day, the 2046 deleted scenes.

Extra note, there's a deleted scene in which Chow and SLZ meet in 2046 and have sex. I think it was a wise choice not to show this in the film, because that wasn't what their relationship was about there. But, in the context of the whole tale, it makes a lot of sense. It would be logical that they get close enough to let their guard down, at least once, which makes all the more painful when they can't connect later. As Chow says at the end of 2046, in love, timing is everything, and they missed their time, so both of them are going to spend the rest of their lives trying to get back to the place they once were, trying to get back to 2046.

Related Posts
2046 (1/4/2005)
2046 Screening with Wong Kar-Wai (6/16/2005)
Wong Kar-Wai Day (8/3/2005)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Both are beautiful films. You had a very nice summary, and your interpretation really rang true with me.