Even after the superb Chungking Express and Happy Together, Wong Kar-Wai's mournful look back to '60s Hong Kong via a thwarted romance is his most sensual film yet.
It starts slowly, with neighbours Chow (Tony Leung), a newspaper editor, and Li-Zhen (Maggie Cheung), a secretary, teasing themselves from their daily routines of clocks and typewriters to confess to each other that their respective spouses are having affairs. They play-act at being those spouses, and soon become mired in an unexpected love themselves. But it's the cumulative emotional impact of recurring details which matters more than plot.
Every lush image, from wisps of cigarette smoke to Leung's oiled hair and Cheung's swishy dresses, revitalises the visual language of longing as seen in Wong's earlier features. Heat rises from the film like steam from its noodle bars. It's enough to make you giddy.