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Flowers of Shanghai(海上花)

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Taiwan, Japan · 1998
1h 53m
Director Hou Hsiao-hsien
Starring Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Michiko Hada, Carina Lau, Michelle Reis
Genre Drama

At the end of the 19th century, four Shanghai "flower girls" vie for the patronage and affections of the wealthy businessmen who come in and out of their upscale brothel. Their lives weave together into a story of betrayal, love, family, and a relentless pursuit of freedom from societal norms.

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TV Guide Magazine by

The camera never ventures outside, but remains fixed on the action at the table, gliding languidly past the same sepia-toned tableau: In the film's universe, people are indistinguishable and the setting never changes. Hou does succeed in one key respect: His films evokes opium addiction, a narcotic delirium fading into a dreamless sleep.


Slant Magazine by Carson Lund

Flowers of Shanghai operates on the whole much like Yoshihiro’s music, filling your senses like a thick haze, holding you rapt without petitioning for your attention.


Boston Globe by Jay Carr

Hou Hsiao-hsien is one of the masters of world cinema, and Flowers of Shanghai represents a shift for him. Stunning and hypnotic, it's his first period piece. [07 Apr 2000]


Chicago Tribune by Michael Wilmington

A ravishing portrait of Shanghai brothel life in the late 19th Century, shot entirely in one-take scenes in luxuriant red-and-gold interior sets. [02 Oct 1998, p.J]


The A.V. Club by Scott Tobias

Flowers Of Shanghai is concerned with the commodification of sex and its hurtful consequences, but Hou leaves the perversion and beatings off-screen. What remains is a succession of tableaux so vividly realized in purely cinematic terms that the emotions seem to waft from the screen like smoke.

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