Eighteen Springs. 1997. Hong Kong/China. Directed by Ann Hui. With Jacqueline Wu Chien-lien, Leon Lai Ming, Ge You, Anita Mui. 35mm. In Mandarin; English subtitles. 126 min.
In 1930s Shanghai, Manjing (Jacqueline Wu Chien-lien) and Shijun (Leon Lai Ming) meet at work and fall in love. Manjing’s formerly well-off family has fallen on hard times, and her older sister Manlu (Anita Mui) has been working as a prostitute to support the family. Manlu's scandalous activities are predictably a source of tension in the lovers’ relationship; as fate brings the two together, it also finds ways to pull them apart. Adapted from a popular novel by Eileen Chang, Eighteen Springs tells the tragic tale of two lovers who seem perpetually at odds with destiny. Lee's camera infuses the screen with melancholia and longing in one of three films he made with Ann Hui, the most successful female director in Chinese cinema.