I will have to say in the following notes certain things that I would rather not say. They may hurt sensitive readers & I would rather follow my inclination & avoid that. However, it may suffice to say here that these are exaggerations required by the understatements of the story. It were vulgar to expose the things that the poet has left concealed; I wish only to show that they are concealed.
I write this because several young women have pointed out to me that the protagonist is cowardly, or weak, or somewhat less than brilliant. She is a beautiful woman of indisputable honor, so I wish to defend her, to make her case. Everyone who knows this story knows that her love is doomed, but they therefore fail to recognize that she is the heroine. I want to say that this woman has learned that love is dangerous.
She is married to a man who leaves Hong Kong for Japan constantly, to do with his job. She works as secretary to a man who asks her to keep his schedule in order, such that his wife & mistress are not indiscreetly troubled. She moves into a new house, where it happens that a neighbor’s wife also constantly leaves to work in Japan. By degrees, she begins to suspect adultery.
She invites the woman’s husband for lunch. They discreetly come to admit to each other what they have suspected. The woman then says the fateful thing: How could it happen? She admits her husband has a way with women, but still defends him: What if it was the woman that started the affair? Her shame & her curiosity fight. She does not know how to act in this new world. She seems to have thought that love is homely.
The discovery of eroticism is shattering. Love ruins marriages, for he is a law-breaker. What are promises worth then? She wants to rehearse that beginning of the affair, she wants to rehearse also the confrontation she must have with her husband. She also repeats her work as secretary as this new man she meets takes to writing, & she helps. In secret, shamed by their circumstances, they begin their affair.
The young women recognize love, but they wonder: Where is the sex? Why does this woman hesitate so? But it is quite obvious: She saw what love made her husband do, whose intentions she has no reason to suspect. She sees love growing in this new man who rents a hotel room where they can be together. Love makes adulterers of them all. Rather, she returns to the house with a child regarding whose parentage we are too polite to inquire.
Wong Kar Wai’s finest melodrama. A must-see for fans of love stories.