When you stare long into the past, the past will drop by on you in a slightly anamorphic guise. Intently gazing into and intensely regretting what happened and was lost in war (fame and family riches), an aloof hypochondriac awakens what could have happened but never occurred (the ex-, now insufflated with new verve under abraded present, -lover of his wife). Think of voice-over as the 6th character. It bonds what's
A melodrama of erotic repression, nuanced in its plotting and with a ghostly vibe from setting its allegory atop the ruins of an older China. "Small town" nothing—no townsfolk are ever seen, giving it a gorgeous isolation made all the better by how it sensually photographs nature but keeps realism at a safe distance. Meanwhile, the film's mysteries—its strange voiceover and complex tensions—stick in your mind.
35mm. As in Mizoguchi, the camera elegantly seeks the dark areas of the human drama, looking for its plasticity. Like Oliveira, the voice-over is another readability level, an invisible visual layer made sensitive by its inner drama to(in) the film structure. The voice of the protagonist is a figure of her psychological demands, that precedes or overrides the filmed actions, in an incomparable act of modernity.
This is definitely one of those select few films where just about 5 or so minutes into it I was in love with the film, which only increased as it progressed. Felt like witnessing poetry in film form. Really deserves all the acclaim it gets.