Philip Carroll’s review published on Letterboxd:
"In the old days, if someone had a secret they didn't want to share... you know what they did? They went up a mountain, found a tree, carved a hole in it, and whispered the secret into the hole. Then they covered it with mud. And leave the secret there forever."
When two married couples move into apartments next to each other on the same day and each have a spouse that travels for work a lot, the remaining man and woman end up becoming very close after finding out that their traveling spouses are having an affair with each other.
Some of the best love stories ever told are about forbidden love. When a film makes you want the two lead characters to be together even though there are several factors preventing that from happening like marriage, dating someone else, their job ("but I'm a senator") or religion, it has truly succeeded in creating a beautiful love story. I can't tell you how many romantic films I've watched where I had no desire to see the two leads end up together ("you are in my very soul, tormenting me"). This film handles it so perfectly by not having the two characters sleep together or even kiss, for that matter. They just secretly spend a lot of time together while refusing to sink to the level of their spouses and grow closer as their conversations get more and more personal. This affected me on a personal level because I've sort of been through a similar situation. Which is another factor that always helps. When a film, or in this case, a romantic film affects you personally, then you know you're hooked. I suppose I should point out the time period and place of when this was set to provide a bit of context. The year is 1962 in Hong Kong. The movie shows off the time period by the social standards. Such as their landlord, who frequently invites them to dinner or games, which is sort of unheard of nowadays. It's a much more conservative time as well, which is why the two leads are so secretive and constantly worrying about people seeing them together because friendships between men and women were an invitation for scrutiny. These are just some more factors that were working against them throughout the film.
There's something to be said about the way this was filmed. There are multiple scenes where music starts playing and the frame rate speeds up while the two pass each other in the hall of their building. I'm guessing to imply the connection between the two that they may not realize yet. Also, the editing is noteworthy due to what feels like repeated scenes of characters running into each other or knocking on the other's door for a chat, but then you realize they are wearing a different outfit and then it's casually mentioned in conversation how much time has passed since their last encounter. I loved how they never show the faces of the traveling spouses. You simply hear their voice or see the back of their heads. That way, the focus is entirely on the two main characters. I enjoy the clever filmmaking techniques like that. They may seem simple but they really make a difference while viewing the film and how to feel about each character. By not seeing their faces, we are disconnected from them and our entire focus is aimed at the two leads.
The third act is where things really started to hit me in the feels. But I don't really want to get into spoilers. I'll just say it felt like a realistic conclusion to everything. Though, it left me wanting more, which essentially is a good thing. But it also left me a little frustrated. So I guess I have some mixed feelings about the artsy ending. But this is definitely up there on my imaginary list of the best romance films I've ever seen. I really need to check out more works from this director. Especially, since this is the second part of an informal trilogy. Such a beautiful, sad story.