An intoxicating, time-bending experience bathed in the golden glow of oil lamps and wreathed in an opium haze, this gorgeous period reverie by Hou Hsiao-hsien traces the romantic intrigue, jealousies, and tensions swirling around four late-nineteenth-century Shanghai “flower houses,” where the courtesans live confined to a gilded cage, ensconced in opulent splendor but forced to work to buy back their freedom.
Among the regular clients is the taciturn Master Wang (Tony Leung Chiu-wai), whose relationship with his longtime mistress (Michiko Hada) is roiled by a perceived act of betrayal.
Composed in a languorous procession of entrancing long takes, Flowers of Shanghai evokes a vanished world of decadence and cruelty, an insular universe where much of the dramatic action remains tantalizingly offscreen—even as its emotional fallout registers with quiet devastation.
Special Edition Features
New, restored 4K digital transfer
New introduction by critic Tony Rayns
A new documentary on the making of the film, featuring behind-the-scenes footage and interviews
Excerpts from a 2015 interview with Hou Hsiao-hsien
ORIGINAL LANGUAGE: CHN
ORIGINAL YEAR: 1998
RUN TIME: 113 minutes