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492 Ratings

Flowers of Shanghai

Hai shang hua | 海上花

Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien
Taiwan, Japan, 1998


Inside the sealed, illusory world of the flower house, a brothel in the British section of Shanghai in 1884, fading Crimson fears losing the attention of Master Wang to Jasmin, while naïve Jade allows herself to be drawn into a suicide pact.

Flowers of Shanghai Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien
A superlative display of Hou’s peerless unhinging of time. Tony Leung’s pensive, faraway gaze—while partaking of opium, drinking games, or lamenting a troubled love—almost singlehandedly rustles the film’s temporal continuity, wresting viewers’ attention from the there-and-then of the film’s action to some ruminative, lyrical beyond.
April 13, 2016
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While its oblique style may make for a difficult viewing experience for those unfamiliar with Hou’s work, if you’re able to surrender to its languorous wavelength it makes for a mesmerizing experience.
July 31, 2012
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[Flowers of Shanghai] is a film constructed like no other: it doesn’t follow the conventions of gradual and deliberate narrative unfolding; it doesn’t vary sets greatly; it doesn’t distinguish the characters from one another in particularly obvious ways. It is a riddle that almost exclusively employs a third person limited narrative eye and ear through which the audience absorbs story information. The audience is then forced to puzzle over its meaning and implications.
March 01, 2012
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