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ROUGE

Hong Kong, 1988 (MIFF 1988, Asian Cinema Showcase)

Director: Stanley Kwan

It's 1934, downtown Hong Kong and Fleur, (Anita Mui) an aspiring opera singer turned prostitute is entertaining her special friend" Chan (Leslie Cheung), the languid, pampered, opium-puffing son of a good family. This affair blossoms until the couple's desire to wed meets with stern opposition from his right-minded parents and the impossibility of the situation leads the thwarted lovers to stage a double suicide pact. This fatal act turns out to be a ceremony which she bravely honours but which he shirks, losing nerve at the last moment.

Having agreed to meet up with her cherished partner m the underworld, ever-faithful Fleur waits in spiritual limbo for years and years. It's now 1987 and the long dead Fleur reappears back on her home turf as a ghost, confronting a pair of rather naive yuppie journalists, spoiled urbanites, who in effect represent' typical',' modern" Hong Kong movie characters.

Thus the movie's point of view is fairly complex and about certain kinds of cultural conflict. The young late 80s moderns are comparatively green, deprived of specific social identity whilst the thirties characters can be regarded in a sense, as victims of their own rich(er) traditions, especially as these are characterised in the observation of particular types of coded ritual and behaviour.

Rouge is a richly textured, almost contemplative ghost story/romance that offers an authentic whiff of the uncanny. It's really a movie about the ways in which the past haunts the present in a city like Hong Kong. As the storyline shifts back and forth between the decades, associations and implications pile up. A pop fantasy that pales before the ghostliness of real life " -David Chute 'Film Comment' June 1988

See also...

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Stanley Kwan explores his own history - as an eldest son gay man and film director - through the images of sexual identity in Chinese cinema. From the Shanghai classics of the 30s to the work of ... More »

EVERLASTING REGRET

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HEART, BEATING IN THE DARK

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SURROGATE WOMAN

Director Im Kwon Taek has again created a moving portrait of a Korean woman, this time in historical circumstances. ... Set in the Yi Dynasty (14th Century) Im is obviously suggesting and attempting ... More »

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