Temptress Moon

This tangled, dream-paced drama from director Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine) and cinematographer Christopher Doyle (Chunking Express) about sex, drugs, corruption, and free-floating decadence, set in Shanghai in the early 1920s, was banned in China, likely for its allusions to current Chinese political and cultural struggles. Chinese action-thriller veteran Leslie Cheung stars as a blackmailing gigolo who, as an idealistic orphan boy, was trained to prepare opium pipes. Established leading lady (and 1997 Cannes jury member) Gong Li plays the drug-addicted head of a once-mighty old family, with no real power or sexual confidence herself. And the two are drawn to one another, with miserable results. We’re talking slow, murky going here, but awareness of the contemporary content beneath the surface gives Temptress Moon an added resonance. C+

Temptress Moon
  • Movie