MIFF 2014 – Rouge (1987)

Director: Stanley Kwan
Starring: Anita Mui, Leslie Cheung, Alex Man, Emily Chu

Getting the obvious out of the way, the Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung both died in 2003 and it was especially sad about Leslie. It is still possible to enjoy their legacy, but some of the subject matter in this movie makes it difficult.

The main story is the classic star-crossed lovers story with Fleur (Anita Mui) and Chan Chen-Pang (Leslie Cheung) as courtesan and rich businessman respectively who could not be together in this life and so decide to be together in the afterlife.

Cut to 53 years later and Fleur turns up at the newspaper to place a missing persons report to Yuen (Alex Man) and then follows him home as she wants to go back to her old neighbourhood. His girlfriend Ah Chor (Emily Chu) is not too pleased at first, but when she discovers Fleur is a ghost she agrees to help out and they start looking for her old lover, believing him still to be alive.

This film was screening as part of a Perfect Midnight – Haunted Hong Kong program at the Melbourne International Film Festival and is a different style of ghost story. The cast even visits the set of a film during a movie complete with a “flying” ghost.

It is more of a realistic ghost story as while Fleur can disappear and move about at will, there are no flying scenes and she calls the sun “big macho” that causes her to look less pretty. Also she can smell things but not eat them.

If you are a fan of the two leads I would recommend this movie and even if you do not usually watch romantic movies this is still on the list as it is an important film to watch in terms of Hong Kong film history.

Hong Kong has changed even more since this film was made so the themes of change and being able to move on, but remember what is important to you are even more pressing.

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