The movie centers on Ho Po-wing (Leslie Cheung) and Lai Yiu-fai (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), a couple from pre-handover Hong Kong. They visit Argentina, hoping to renew their relationship and break away from their pattern of abuse, break-up and reconciliation.
Contains examples of:
- Ambiguously Gay: Chang. He comments that he likes "deep, low voices" and rejects advances made by women.
- Aroused by Their Voice: It's heavily implied that Chang finds Lai's voice arousing, commenting in a voiceover that he likes "deep, low voices."
- Author Appeal: Feelings of alienation.
- Bittersweet Ending: Ho and Lai break up roughly two thirds into the movie and stay broken up by the end of the movie. However, Lai recognizes that their relationship was ultimately destructive, which gives him the strength to visit the Iguazu Falls on his own, and return to Hong Kong.
- Did Not Get the Boy: Ho and Lai break up roughly two-thirds through the movie and don't get back together by the end. Lai and Chang don't get together either, but it's much more open ended.
- Disability Superpower: Chang has developed exceptional hearing, due to having poor eyesight as a kid.
- Inelegant Blubbering: Ho when he realizes that Lai isn't returning to him.
- Landmark of Lore: Chang's goal is to reach a lighthouse at the southern tip of South America since it's supposedly where all sorrows can be dropped.
- The Masochism Tango: Ho and Lai's relationship is a cycle of abuse, break-up and reconciliation. It's what ultimately causes them to leave Hong Kong for Argentina, in the hopes that a change of scene will help them break out of old patterns. It succeeds when Lai finally refuses to reconcile with Ho.
- Not So Different: Lai starts sleeping around after Chang leaves to continue his road trip to the lighthouse. He notes that he thought he was different from Ho, but realizes that lonely people act the same way.
- Opposites Attract: Throughly Deconstructed. Lai is the responsible one, while Ho is very impulsive, their different personalities make for a fatally unstable relationship.
- Scenery Porn: A rather unique case in that Buenos Aires isn't depicted glamorously. Since the main characters are broke (or near broke) for the bulk of the movie, the film spends a lot of time in the working class barrio. Yet, it's still filmed very beautifully and romantically.
- Played much more straightforwardly when Lai visits Iguazu Falls alone.
- Straight Gay: Both Ho and Lai. Chang as well, assuming that he is gay.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Lai and Chang.
- The Unreveal: In-universe. Chang plays his tape recorder hoping to hear Lai's message to him, but notes that he doesn't hear anything aside from the sound of someone crying.