aidan i loved this! “in the mood for love” has always been my favorite of wkw’s films, and i loved that you picked out obfuscation as a theme — the one time i recommended this to a friend, they kept asking me, “why does this scene focus on the sliver of a clock? why the shots where people are hidden? why do we never see the faces of their spouses?” obviously some of the answer is “it looks cool,” but i agree that it is meant to be a larger metaphor, that neither the viewer nor the characters can ever know the full story. just as we never see the spouses in full, so too the characters will never know how their spouses started their romance, and so on.
i think wkw has always believed love to be a very personal question and a very personal answer, that he too comes to very little conclusion about love in every one of his films. i totally agree with you that the strength of the film is that wkw doesn’t try to answer any questions — of what love means to su and chow, of what love means to wkw, of what love should mean to the viewer. the definitive moment of this, to me, is chow speaking into the hole in the wall and covering it with mud, denying all of us the answers we are looking for. just like the cut-out windows and underexposed lighting, this is a moment where, just like you say, we are given all we need to know. chow’s experience with su is meaningful to him, but he will never explain how or why (in fact, part of the reason i dislike “2046” is that wkw does try to explain the relationships more in that movie), so we are forever left “attempting to find sense and solace” in the movie as he turns away.