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Not far from Shanghai, in a country town 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 older married women and then blackmails them. When Older Master Pang dies, the clan elders make Ruyi 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 then an emotional maelstrom 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>
This is a tale of tragic romance, where the male character is an emotional wreck (due to him being a slave for his sister and her husband, who also forces him to have a little experience with incest), and the female character is living her day in an opium cloud.
The acting from the main actors is top notch, namely Leslie Cheung and Li Gong, who always seem to deliver in every movie I have seen them in (Li Gong struggles a bit in her English speaking roles, and it does take something away from her performance in those movies, I must admit). Li Gong usually plays an intelligent character, but here she is an opium addict, so it is definitely different seeing her looking all confused and dumbfounded all the time.
The cinematography was spectacular, as it usually is when Christopher Doyle is in charge. The lighting and camera angles reminded me a little of David Lynch, and I believe it was done this way in order for you to see the world like you had smoked opium, just like the characters. You should see the movie for the acting, cinematography and camera work alone.
The main critique of the movie seems to be that it is very hard to follow the plot and figure out who is who. I agree with this. It gets established 40 min or so into the movie, but you could be tempted to turn off the movie before that because it is so confusing. But once it gets established who is who, and what they want, the plot becomes a lot better, and I became very involved in the movie.
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