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      Flowers of Shanghai

      Released Sep 11, 1998 2h 5m Drama List
      93% Tomatometer 14 Reviews 78% Audience Score 1,000+ Ratings Women struggle in a Shanghai brothel where everything only appears to be beautiful. Read More Read Less Watch on Fandango at Home Buy Now

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      Flowers of Shanghai

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      Critics Reviews

      View All (14) Critics Reviews
      Berenice Reynaud Chicago Reader The film opens with a brilliant seven-minute take; the languid yet precise cinematography throughout gives it the seductive power of a drug-induced dream. Nov 14, 2013 Full Review Nick Schager Lessons of Darkness Sympathetically depicts ... consuming, love-sick ennui. Rated: B+ May 3, 2005 Full Review Marta Barber Miami Herald It's beautiful to look at, but you must have patience to enjoy it. Rated: 3/4 Apr 30, 2004 Full Review Brian Susbielles InSession Film Shanghai is made with such sophistication that maybe one viewing won’t be enough to go through the deep layers of emotion between the flower pedals. Mar 6, 2023 Full Review Ray Pride Newcity The dreaminess is compounded by Hou’s unmatched mastery of extended takes, choreographing the story of class and commerce like a calm yet powerful stream. Rated: 10/10 Jul 15, 2022 Full Review Rob Aldam Backseat Mafia A sumptuous and opulent tale which is bathed in glorious colours. Jun 9, 2021 Full Review Read all reviews

      Audience Reviews

      View All (52) audience reviews
      Audience Member As far as filming quality and atmosphere are concerned this is an artistic movie. The story of the life behind the Scenes of a flower house operation was portrayed well. It fell short however in delivering an impact. There was no heightened conflict between the Con artists and their gullible patrons. I would have preferred to see more reactionary responses after the true deception was exposed . Master Wang was the only one made aware of the women's dishonesty and infidelity. Instead when he is supposed to be angry about being taken advantage of ;he does absolutely nothing. The listless and drab ending that followed was a major let down. Had the storyline ended with a fire or something more dramatic it might have been more than just average.Alas it was mediocre at best. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/18/23 Full Review Audience Member Flower's of Shanghai unfolds at the languorous and hypnotic pace of an opium dream, lulling us into a sense of tranquility which deftly conceals the dramatic turbulence beneath the leisurely surface. This work hails directly from the Ozu school of film, in which conflict simmers beneath a misleading veneer of serenity, forcing the viewer to remain ever alert to the misguiding nature of external appearances. I was particularly enthralled by the film's premise; namely the peculiar dynamics which must ever prove at work in an environment characterized by the paradox of opulent servitude. One ponders the implications of romantic pursuit in a gilded cage that invariably reduces all interchanges to the status of a business transaction. To render the circumstances all the more complex, the story occurs within a broader sociocultural context that historically inhibited any hope for spontaneity of the heart. At times, the film proves both perplexing and alienating, with central plot threads sometimes failing to achieve much needed clarity. Multiple viewings are needed in order to adapt to this film's unique sense of time, place and story. Still, the dazzling and mesmerizing qualities of this exotic work make attentive viewing worth the effort. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/14/23 Full Review Audience Member The cause and effect are interspersed. The foreground and the aftermath unfold simultaneously. The four spaces do not overlap. The looseness of the threads preserves the character of the spaces. The contrast of lines forms a dialogue between the spaces. The complexity tends to be subdued, but the subtlety is almost natural. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/08/23 Full Review Audience Member Watching grass grow might be just about as interesting. Slow, slower and slowest. The characters offer little about themselves other than trite cliches. Costumes are sumptuous but overmatched by a very very thin repetitive dialogue with little movement/action. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 02/07/23 Full Review chris w 8 7 7 7 7 9 7 7 7 7 = 73 2019/12/26 What a tedious film. Like Daughter of the Nile, the awkward performance in the film by the actors was due to bad mise en scene by the director. Nothing in control by the creators, especially the overrated screenwriter, Chu T'ien-wen. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review nick s The theme of desperate and hopeless life of courtesans was one of the pivotal motifs for another master of the Oriental cinema Kenji Mizoguchi. The Japanese director came up with this topic in The Woman in the Rumour and Street of Shame. The courtesans of Mizoguchi don't live in poverty, yet there is no hope for better living for them. The female protagonists from the story of XIX century writer Han Bangqing are somehow similar, and Hou Hsiao-hsien employs this story for his Flowers of Shanghai screenplay. We see the scenes from several rich Shanghai brothels (or flower houses) designed for wealthy clients. These are the flower houses where only a few girls live, and they serve to the clients who spend days and hours with them again and again. The wealthy men come here to dine, gamble, smoke opium, splurge money, bring expensive gifts to the women. The houses are also used for arranged marriages. Every scene is enriched with dense colours and gorgeous decorations. The smoke of opium and gossips both courtesans and their wealthy patrons soak in this atmosphere of fake paradise. These men seemingly have forgotten about their life outside the flower houses as the scenes of the film never go beyond the brothel. The women get lots of money from the clients, but their debts also grow. We see women fading away as time goes by, and men being enthralled by the stunning allure of these courtesans, elegance of ornate ambiance and smoke of opium. The wealthy patrons illustrate drug-addled passion and emptiness of tremendous wealth, while the women act as more pragmatic characters seeking to escape their cages in the flower houses. Though they end up learning they belong there, and very of few of them would have a chance to escape, just like in Mizoguchi's films about courtesans. The influence of Mizoguchi can be also observed in the style Hou develops in Flowers of Shanghai. It is described by a particular way of mise-en-scèn creation and subtle beauty of slow-paced story-telling Kenji Mizoguchi was famous for. Hou enhances the film with something magnetic and mesmerizing which would be growing on the viewers after they had seen the film. This is a very atmospheric and gracious film which is shot entirely in swoon-like long takes which is another courtesy to Mizoguchi's favourite cinematic technique. The most impressive long take is probably the opening 7-minute scene at the dining table in flower house: nothing, but wonderful and artificial paradise we glance at. To tell the stories of oppressed lives of courtesans Crimson, Jade, Emerald, Jasmine, Pearl and other girls Hou had the fantastic cast in his possession: Michiko Hada, Michelle Reis, Carina Lau, Vicky Wei. The story though revolved around wealthy patron Wang portrayed by Tony Leung Chiu-wai delivering the great performance in collaboration with Hou once again after A City of Sadness. It is spectacular to observe these tense situations the courtesans are involved in, as we see a lot of peculiarities and details of Chinese culture, customs, and traditions of the XIX century. Nevertheless, Flowers of Shanghai is the movie that preliminary draws attention with the unique and sublime aesthetics. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

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      Movie Info

      Synopsis Women struggle in a Shanghai brothel where everything only appears to be beautiful.
      Hsiao-hsien Hou
      Shozo Ichiyama, Yang Teng-Kuei
      T'ien-wen Chu
      Production Co
      3H Productions, Shochiku Co. Ltd.
      Original Language
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Sep 11, 1998, Original
      2h 5m
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