Rouge (1988)
Reviewed by: ororama on 2018-08-22
Rouge looks at differing male and female perspectives on love in two eras while telling a tragic ghost story. Director Stanley Kwan effectively contrasts a romantic view of the brothels and theaters of Hong Kong in the mid-1930s with a prosaic view of contemporary Hong Kong. He suggests that while life has changed in many ways over the intervening years, people have changed less than they might think.

Anita Mui is haunting as Fleur, a popular prostitute in one of Hong Kong's leading brothels. She falls in love with Master 12, the heir of a well-to-do merchant family, played by a well cast Leslie Cheung. Fleur refuses to acknowledges the impossibility of her dreams or the limitations of her lover. She returns more than fifty years after her death to find out why Master 12 has not followed her as they had agreed. She is assisted in her search for Master 12 by a couple (Alex Man and Emily Chu) in a modern relationship, which seems to meet their day to day needs, but appears static and perhaps unsatisfying for them. As they become enchanted by the story of the past romance, the modern couple began to question where their own relationship is going.

Rouge celebrates beauty, while simultaneously offering an invitation to contemplate the meanings of romantic love and what we expect from it. It is one of the masterpieces of Hong Kong cinema.