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"A beautiful, sad, sad movie. This movie won lots of awards (5) in Hong Kong in 1987 and makes the Chinese Ghost Story trilogy (which I liked and also star Leslie Cheung) seem positively silly. This is a touching movie, with a perfect ending, I think. (And when is the last time you could say that about a movie?) Any women who want to know whether their guy is worth keeping should put him in front of this and see how quick he proposes.I am a guy however, and I admit I picked up this movie to see Anita Mui. Her performance here is superb. She is most gorgeous in her scenes without make-up. Stunning. I don't know how I have missed her films all these years, but it is a joy to discover them.The juxtaposition between past and present is well conceived and implemented, and the movie flows seemlessly.I know this cost almost twice as much as an American film - but hey - you only live once. Spend the money."
Simply one of the best ghost films ever made
Derek Ho | Remsenberg, NY United States | 04/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a ghost story but it's not a horror film. It's a timeless tale of a love that tries to survive beyond the bounds of death. Anita Mui has created a character, the tragic courtesan Fleur, that is hers and hers alone. The music, the mood, the acting, the quiet moments of sadness and despair: all of this is "Rouge." If you can handle a film with subtitles, you should not miss "Rouge" by any means. You will remember this film for a long, long time and you will watch it more than once."
Beautiful and Tragic
SereneNight | California, USA | 10/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rouge is the story of a 23 year old Chinese Prostitute named Fleur who falls in love with a client, the heir of a rich merchant. When her lover's father refuses to let them marry they run away together, but tragedy soon follows, and faced with the sadness of separation, the two decide to commit suicide together.Fleur becomes a ghost, doomed to search for her lost lover who has not followed up in hell. Enlisting the aid of a newspaper editor and his girlfriend, she publishes an ad in the paper directing him to meet her one last time. The sound track of this movie was first rate, and the acting was superb.I really enjoyed Fleur, even if I thought her lover was rather wimpy. The movie is well worth the watch, a must for Hong Kong Ghost film fans!"
A Ghost's Chance of Rekindling an Old Flame
Sur-reel Life, All About My Movies | New York, NY | 12/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In "Rouge," a ghost from fifty years in the past returns to Hong Kong, searching for her lost love. No, this isn't a goofy romantic-comedy, even if the premise sounds awfully familiar. Instead, it's a highly-effective melodrama from director Stanley Kwan, as well as a star vehicle for Anita Mui, the late Cantonese pop singer. As Fleur, a beautiful courtesan who dies tragically with her lover, Mui gets to sing, dress up in period costumes, and otherwise command the screen.
The story: Fleur's spirit somehow fails to be reunited in the afterlife with that of Chen (Leslie Cheung, from "The Chinese Feast" and "Happy Together"), her earthly paramour. Assuming he has been reincarnated, she patiently waits in the underworld until August 11th, 1987. Why that date? According to a diviner, whom she consulted while still alive, that is the soonest they can meet again on Earth. Fleur wants to see Chen one more time before returning to the land of the dead, where she will be reborn herself.
Of course, Hong Kong has changed a lot by the time she returns. Fleur requires a guide, and a meek ad man named Yuen (Alex Man) takes pity on her. At first, he doesn't know that she's a ghost; he dismisses her as a harmless eccentric, only to discover her true nature during the bus ride home. After that tense, appropriately creepy revelation, he still takes her back to his apartment, which he shares with his reporter girlfriend, Chor (Emily Chu).
The writers of "Rouge," Tai An-Ping Chiu and Bik-Wa Lei, cut back-and-forth between Fleur and Chen, and Yuen and Chor, telling parallel stories. With the former couple, we witness the tale of their sad fate, which may not be as clear-cut as Fleur made it sound. Meanwhile, the other couple tries to figure out what really happened to Chen, why his spirit, after he died, was never able to find Fleur's. Relying mainly on Chor's journalistic skills, they locate several clues in places Fleur and Chen used to frequent. Ultimately, these lead to a surprising plot twist or two, which casts everything we were told in a different light. Friend turns against friend, lover against lover, and the climactic Peking opera movie set seems oddly appropriate, as the present comes face-to-face with the past.
But solving a fifty-year old metaphysical mystery, compelling as it ends up being, isn't the sole aim of the filmmakers. They use the two time periods, and two couples, to juxtapose love in the 30's with the 80's, to show how some aspects are different, while others stay the same.
At one point, the old-fashioned Fleur asks Yuen why he hasn't married his girlfriend. He replies that he doesn't feel any pressure. After all, they live a staid, comfortable life already. They are even past the point of buying each other love tokens. In an earlier scene, when Yuen "surprises" Chor with a gift, it turns out to be sneakers, eminently practical, but not exactly romantic.
By contrast, from the moment Fleur and Chen lock eyes, everything about their love affair vibrates with urgency. He publicly declares his affection for her after just one encounter, and showers her with gifts large and small (such as the ornamental make-up box from which the movie's title derives). After Chen's wealthy family disowns him for refusing to call off the relationship, they continue their desperate clinging. Cinematographer Bill Wong accentuates their passion by infusing the 30's time period with lots of reds and golds. Meanwhile, he adopts conservative colors for the 80's, thus creating two very distinct moods.
But this does not mean relationships in previous times were better, even if the people involved may have shown more passion. Clearly, Fleur is more desperate about her man than Chor about her own. But a woman's role in 1980's Hong Kong has also changed dramatically from the 30's. When Fleur was a child, her parents abandoned her; she became a professional courtesan at the tender age of 14. She knows she must marry in order to become a "respectable" woman. If she does not accomplish this while at the height of her beauty and popularity, she will be stuck at the brothel forever. A modern career woman like Chor never has to worry about suffering this kind of fate.
Perhaps, because love can be viewed more as a luxury than a necessity, Chor's relationship with Yuen isn't nearly as urgent. Even so, both couples still have aspects in common, such as the need for physical intimacy. Indeed, during one scene, Fleur peeks in on Yuen and Chor while they make love. As she watches, the footage of one couple intermingles with images of the other. They become a montage of affection.
On the one hand, this sequence functions as psychological filmmaking, merging point-of-view shots with memory. But at the same time, it argues that love in the 80's only seems staid and comfortable, that underneath, the passion that comes from feeling close to someone remains alive and kicking."
Obio Ntia | New York | 10/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rouge tells the story of Fleur (Anita Mui), a beautiful courtesan in 1930's Hong Kong and her lover (played by Leslie Cheung) whose parents forbid him from marrying Fleur. The two attempt suicide, but only Fleur dies, leaving her ghost to search for her lover for more than fifty years. Fleur's ghost puts an ad in the newspaper in the 1980's and enlists the help of a reporter and his girlfriend.
The atmosphere in "Rouge" is outstanding and Kwan skillfully employs the right camera shots to supply specific moments in the film with a certain element of spookiness. The scene with Fleur's ghost on the tram with the reporter is unforgettably creepy.
Anita Mui is splendidly enchanting throughout the whole film. With or without makeup, every shot of her is exquisite. Leslie Cheung also gives a fine performance. Fans of these two late (both died in 2003) and extraordinary actors should definitely watch the two of them together in this film."