Set in Hong Kong, 1962, Chow Mo-Wan is a newspaper editor who moves into a new building with his wife. At approximately the same time, Su Li-zhen, a beautiful secretary and her executive husband also move in to the crowded building. With their spouses often away, Chow and Li-zhen spend most of their time together as friends. They have everything in common from noodle shops to martial arts. Soon, they are shocked to discover that their spouses are having an affair. Hurt and angry, they find comfort in their growing friendship even as they resolve not to be like their unfaithful mates.

5
A man and a woman in neighbouring apartments suspect their spouses of extra-marital activities.

A man and a woman who live in neighbouring apartments in Hong Kong in the early 1960s have an austere relationship when they gradually discover that their respective partners are having an affair. She – Maggie Cheung – works for a shipping agent. Her boss is having an affair. She covers for him to his wife. He – Tony Leung – is a journalist who dreams of writing fantasy adventures. His best friend is a serial womaniser. On her lonely nights she gets take-away noodles from a local food stand. Their respective landlords play enthusiastic games of mahjong. The relationship progresses by infinitesimally small degrees.

With this film Wong Kar-Wai has changed mood and tone. In The Mood For Love is nostalgic in that it recreates the scene of Wong's youth but it isn't a sentimental nostalgia. He masterfully creates a whole picture from glimpses, beautiful glimpses. We never see the spouses to recognise them. We rarely get to see a whole picture of anything. The journey we take in this film with these two fairly inaccessible people is amazingly powerful. It's hard to pinpoint just how Wong does it. Certainly it's beautiful, the soundtrack with the music of Michael Galasso and Nat King Cole singing Spanish love songs is exquisite and there are two really fine performances from Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung at the heart of it, but the riff he plays in this film emotionally, aesthetically is just one of those cinema experiences that you come away from with something precious. It's rare. I hope you loved it David.

Comments from David: Very different from Wong Kar-wai's rather hip earlier films, this nostalgic and very beautiful Brief Encounter is a stately, meticulously crafted romance filtered through memory. The setting of Hong Kong in the early '60s, before the political changes which eventually transformed the cosmopolitan city, is beautifully captured through the interior settings and briefly glimpsed exteriors, and the two central performances are simply sublime. I'm not sure that Wong quite knows how to end the film – he shot several alternatives, and the one we see, though it works, is faintly unsatisfying. But this is a minor blemish in another very fine Chinese language movie.