Friday, August 15, 2008

MOVIE: LUST, CAUTION



Lust, Caution
(Chinese: Sè, Jiè) is a 2007 Chinese espionage thriller film directed by Taiwanese director Ang Lee, based on the short story of the same name published in 1979 by Chinese author Eileen Chang.

Lust, Caution is set in World War II-era Shanghai and details the political intrigue surrounding a powerful political figure named Mr. Yee (Tony Leung) in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. Spanning the late-'30s and early-'40s, the movie introduces us to Hong Kong teen Wong Chia Chi (Tang Wei), a shy college freshman who finds her calling in a drama society devoted to patriotic plays. But the troupe's leader, Kuang Yu Min (Wang Leehom) isn't just a theater maven - he's a revolutionary as well, and he's devoted to carrying out a bold plan to assassinate top Japanese collaborator Mr. Yee. Each student has an important role to play, and Wong puts herself in a dangerous position as Mrs. Mak: she befriends Mr. Yee's wife (Joan Chen), and slowly gains trust before tempting him into an affair.

While at first the plan goes exactly as scripted, things suddenly take a deadly turn and Wong is emigrate from Hong Kong. Later, in 1941, the occupation shows no signs of ceasing and Wong is simply drifting through her days in Shanghai. Much to her surprise, the former actress finds Kuang requesting that she resume the role of Mrs. Mak. Now, as Wong again gains intimate access to her dangerous prey, she must struggle with her own identity in order to pull off the performance of a lifetime.

The film adaption and the story are loosely based on events that took place during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai. The film's explicit sex scenes resulted in the film being rated NC-17 in the US.




When you sit down to watch an Ang Lee film you know you are in for some good filmmaking. The man knows how to direct a movie and with Lust, Caution he doesn't disappoint. Although, it isn't much like his other films. Most of his films contain a lot of beautiful shots and Lust, Caution doesn't carry very many. The movie mostly takes place indoors and in close conversations. It doesn't give Lee very much room to move around but he really doesn't need to.

The film mostly involves the characters in discussions and quick glancing looks at each other. The writing and acting is what stands out the most. Although if this same material were in other hands, without Lee behind the camera, it wouldn't be as interesting. He manages to make quiet scenes stand out and loud scenes to happen quietly. There is a scene when someone gets stabbed to death quite a bit and it seems to happen in slow motion until you realize that it is not. It's just that there is no hyped up music or quick camera movements.

The film deserves its NC-17 rating as there is a lot of sex in this movie. The characters have sex in positions that I have never seen or heard of before. They are very graphic but Lee still makes them tasteful of enough so it never seems like you are watching a porno film. The sex scenes are very important in understanding the two main characters. Mr. Yee likes it rough and Lee isn't afraid to show how rough he can get.

Lust, Caution is very different compared to The Hulk or Brokeback Mountain. It is not as show offish as those two or most of his films. Even though it is not one of Lee's best, it is his most quietest and sometimes that can be a good change of pace.

Lust, Caution: 7 out of 10

The DVD features a Tiles of Deception, Lurid Affections featurette.


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