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Not far from Shanghai, in a country twon stands the palatial home of the Pang family. Old Master Pang is an addict who brings up his beautiful daughter Ruyi on opium smoke. Her older brother, Zhengda, is addicted as well, and then paralysed and effectively brain-dead. Zhongliang, Zhengda's brother-in-law, is a successful gigolo in Shanghai who seduces married older women and then blackmails them. When Older Master Pang dies, the clan elders makes Ruyi to take over the role as the head of the household. Zhongliang returns to the Pang family on the death of Old Master Pang, re-encounters Ruyi, and they are secretly attracted to each other. Wanting to seem sophisticated, she succumbs to Zhongliang's attempts to seduce her. But in the emotional maelstrom that follows - for the angry, jealous and sexually frustrated sister (Zhengda's wife) is also part of the picture... Written by
L.H. Wong <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I decided to purchase Temptress Moon after viewing the breathtaking, and devastating, Farewell My Concubine. Both movies feature the amazing talents of Gong Li and Leslie Cheung. So total is their transformation between the two films, it's difficult to believe that these are the same actors.
While Concubine served as a historical epic, Temptress Moon seemed more along the lines of Shakespearean tragedy. Like Kaige's previous work, the characters' frustrations signify larger themes: domestic turmoil; gender repression; class conflict; etc. Although these themes concern the private sphere of life and are not as overtly political as those addressed in Concubine, they are just as much about power, its abuse and the resulting disfigurement of the human spirit.
Temptress Moon is by no means a romance. The movie succeeds in being lyrical and melancholy - more engrossing than entertaining. Despite the requisite tragic ending, I found the plot to be oddly satisfying! The waxing and waning fates of Zhongliang, Ruyi, and Duanwu intertwined to create a luminous study of the heart and its insatiable hunger.
Overall, Temptress Moon was a clear reflection of the obsessions that ruthlessly dictate interpersonal affairs. Leslie Cheung, Gong Li and Kevin Lin give mesmerizing performances while supporting portrayals like that of Caifei He as Zhongliang's sister and Yin Tse as Zhongliang's Boss are equally flawless. (Among the movie's many moral messages: "Don't Do Drugs!" :)
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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