It’s been 19 years since Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love was released, and since then it has cemented itself not only as one of the most iconic films in Hong Kong cinema, but as one of the most well-regarded of all time, with the BBC in 2016 calling it the second-best film of the 21st century.
So, with a legacy like that at stake, film buffs could be forgiven for reacting with a mix of excitement and trepidation to Wong’s latest announcement: that he will be filming a new installment in the critically-acclaimed saga that includes In the Mood for Love and its follow-up, 2046.
Wong made the comments to reporters after receiving an honorary award at the Hong Kong Screenwriter’s Guild on Sunday. According to Ming Pao, when asked what was next in the pipeline, film-wise, Wong said he was working on adapting Blossoms, a decades-spanning 2013 novel by Jin Yucheng set in Shanghai.
Blossoms charted the lives of three men living in Shanghai from the 1960s to the 1990s, and was notable for its use of the “Shanghainese voice,” adopting idioms and phrases specific to the local dialect. (Shanghainese was also featured in In the Mood for Love as the dialect spoken by the landlady, Mrs. Suen.)
Talk of Wong adapting the novel goes as far back as 2015, though this is the first time he has positioned it as part of a trilogy along with In The Mood For Love and 2046.
“I’ve filmed a lot in Hong Kong. I’m from Shanghai, and I’ve never filmed in Shanghai, so I wanted to give it a try,” Wong told reporters. “Blossoms would be the third part of In The Mood For Love and 2046.”
Wong said he was almost done with the screenplay after four years of work, and hoped to start filming by the end of this year or the beginning of next.
Variety reported that Canadian-Chinese rapper Kris Wu was at one point rumored to be starring in the film, while China’s version of IMDB, Douban, reports that Zhang Ziyi — who played one of Tony Leung’s love interests in 2046 — is also set to star.
But Wong cautioned reporters on Sunday: “No actors have been cast yet, and they need to be able to speak Shanghainese.”
When asked if he would invite Tony Leung to reprise his role as Mr. Chow, Wong replied: “If he can speak Shanghainese, then sure he can.”
But for all the talk of Shanghai, Wong also gave a shout-out to Hong Kong in his comments to the press, singling out the owners of the many eateries and watering holes where he would retreat to write.
“I always like to write my scripts in places where there are lots of people, like coffee shops, cha chaan tengs, bars,” he said. “I’d like to thank the managers of those places for looking after me and waking me up with a sandwich or iced lemon tea.”
How Blossom would fit into the world established by In the Mood for Love and 2046 remains to be seen.
In The Mood For Love (2000) was set in 1960s Hong Kong and charts the story of neighbors Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung) and Chow Mo-wan (Leung) who discover that their spouses are having an affair with each other. The film explored the themes of loneliness and repressed love, and featured subtle performances from Leung and Cheung — in a rotation of figure-hugging cheongsams — and a hazy, dream-like look courtesy of cinematographer Christopher Doyle.
The film was followed four years later by 2046, with Leung reprising his role as Chow, who has now become a womanizer. The film follows his relations with the women he meets following his unconsummated affair with Su. (Cheung also reprises her role in the film, but only in cameos.)
Both In The Mood For Love and 2046 form the latter two parts of what had been considered an informal 1960s trilogy that also included Wong’s Days of Being Wild, which also starred Cheung playing a character named Su Li-zhen.