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Tony Chiu-Wai Leung,
Set in Hong Kong, 1962, Chow Mo-Wan is a newspaper editor who moves into a new building with his wife. At 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. Written by
I won't bore you with story and plot lines, as they have been presented many times already on this page, so It's been along time coming since I have seen such a film. Beautiful, elegant and restrained, with a narrative pace to match. A film with sensitivity and understated qualities that is rare in these times of clichéd plots. The beautifully subdued photography, saturated in rich luxurious colors, and for lack of better words, each frame is filled with an air of tension. The settings and locations are used repeatedly but the film manages to breath new life into them each time they featured, there always seems to be a key prop, light fixture, or set piece to slightly clue the audience as to where we are in the characters world.
The acting reminds me of the "The Bicycle Thief", not the style, but the fact that you forget that you are watching two actors engaged in their craft. There is meaning behind every gesture and almost every movement has assigned significance to explain the inside world of the characters, the relationship, the feelings, and situation of the two lovers. The dialogue is sparse but like the rest of the movie, is imbued with meaning. Speaking of meaning, the soundtrack is infectious. Used here it becomes a story telling device. And although the film is of Chinese origins, even a song sung in Spanish by Nat King Cole imparts the film with subtle meaning. The orchestrated soundtrack is repetitive, but the repetition is what makes it comfortable. It is used in conjunction with the story, and not just a means to put music to action, or to cue the audience to feel a certain way at a certain plot point.
I would not recommend this film to anybody, I fear most people would be jaded by the calm flow of the story, but I would recommend it to someone who is looking for an alternative to the romantic schlock that fills the multiplexes on our side of the world. I must say that I was completely taken by this film, and continued to watch it night after night. The story takes time to present itself and bears repeated viewings as very few films in this genre are open to such a broad interpretation. A very beautiful movie.
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