this film is very old hollywood. it takes the demureness, chastity and incredible glamour of that golden age and weds it to wong's contemplative sensibilities resulting in a visual feast that feels very much like falling in love. it is a 98 minute longing gaze, as almost every composition makes you feel like you are looking at something you can never have, through doorways, down corridors, between bars, around curtains. everything is claustrophobic, constrained, fraught with impediments and drenched in color that belies the protagonists' placid exteriors. theirs is a desperate, courtly melancholy which you will fully recognize if you have ever been in love. the soundtrack is built around a waltz refrain but it might as well be replaced by the sound of a quickening pulse, as the movie's foundation is the sound of that someone's voice on the phone, their newly familiar figure waiting for you on the street and their smell lingering on your clothes. it is a delicate reverie of things that can never be and it is nearly indescribably beautiful. on top of all that, (in a sentence you thought you would most likely never read here) maggie cheung's dresses are off the chain. i would not do the film justice if i didn't show you the color. can you imagine if this were the first color film you had ever seen? it might kill you.
from there we travel halfway around to world to brazil for marcel camus' equally colorful but considerably less restrained black orpheus (1959).