Rouge is a classy, elegant, artistic, believable and enjoyable love story with a ghost framework [from the 1987 novel by Lilian Lee]. The movie is set in colorful 1900 and retells the sad story of a high-class prostitute from an exclusive brothel patronized by rich men.
There is a woman called Flower (Anita Mui, a singer who proves that she’s also a dramatic actress), who falls in love with a customer (Leslie Cheung, perfect typecasting) as a spoiled, passive young man controlled by family ties. Love blossoms, but things go awry when they plan to marry and must face the opposition of the young man’s family.
Flower dies but the young man survives. They are expected to meet in ‘hell’ and Flower waits for years in the spiritual dimension. When he does not come, she returns to earth to look for her lost lover.
Rouge has the technical gloss of an art movie, detailed cinematography to suit the mood, superb art direction and well-balanced acting, especially by Alex Man. It was first released in Taiwan, was a box-office sensation and won three major Golden Horse awards for best actress, cinematography and art direction.