Review: ‘Color Blossoms’

Romance and sex messily collide with arty pretension and genre ambitions in "Color Blossoms," a lush but vacuous meller from Hong Kong-based veteran director Yonfan. This Wong Kar-wai homage tilts too closely to unintentional parody to satisfy as either drama or romp.

Romance and sex messily collide with arty pretension and genre ambitions in “Color Blossoms,” a lush but vacuous meller from Hong Kong-based veteran director Yonfan (“Bugis Street,” “Bishonen”). This Wong Kar-wai homage — billed as the last seg of Yonfan’s “Peony Pavilion” trilogy inspired by classic Chinese works — tilts too closely to unintentional parody to satisfy as either drama or romp. Codified homosexual themes will undoubtedly lead to slots at gay fests, but wider distribution is unlikely.

An ambitious realtor, Mei-li (Teresa Cheung), gets more than a percentage when she sells a Hong Kong apartment to wealthy Japanese diva Madame Umeki (Keiko Matsuzaka), who then enlists Mei-li to sell the place she once lived in. The art deco mansion is laden with memories from Umeki’s sexual heyday. References to Wong’s “Chung King Express” and “In the Mood for Love” abound, while Umeki is a stilted version of Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard.” As pic tours through S&M fantasies and supernatural elements, thesps seem stranded in some kind of eye-rolling competish. Yarn gets increasingly ridiculous, though the vibrant, digitally enhanced lensing never ceases to please.

Color Blossoms

Hong Kong

Production

A Far Sun Films presentation. (International sales: Far Sun Films, Hong Kong.) Produced by Yonfan. Executive producer, Fruit Chan. Directed, written by Yonfan.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Wang Yu; editor, Kwong Chit-leung, Tin Sam-fat; music, Surender Sodhi; production designer, Man Lim-cheung. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama Special), Feb. 12, 2005. Original title: To sik. Cantonese, English, Japanese dialogue. Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Keiko Matsuzaka, Teresa Cheung, Harisu, Sho, Carl Ng.
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