Local, Movie Reviews

Lust, Caution

Posted: February 26, 2008 at 11:48 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Ang Lee’s follow up to Brokeback Mountain takes him back to as he weaves a sexual espionage thriller that works to decent effect.
The film follows Tang Wei as Chia Chi Wong who becomes involved in a resistance groups attempt to assassinate a Chinese official working, Mr. Yee, who is working with the Japanese who are occupying China during WWII. Yee has turned on his country and helps weed out the subversive groups that are attempting to fight back against Japanese oppression. Chia Chi Wong is eventually put in the place to seduce Yee to make him vulnerable but gets in to deep when her feelings begin to conflict her motives.
The films spans over a number of years with a fairly large jump in the middle. Chia Chi Wong starts off as an aspiring student before meeting her fellow cohorts when she acts in a rousing play about the affects of the war on China‘s villages and home life. The group is very amateur and a rag tag bunch of fighters but working as a team they get closer to Yee.
I will spoil no more and instead turn to the actors. Yee is played wonderfully by Tony Leung who is a treat to watch in everything he is in. Playing the evil and methodical Yee while still showing us why Wong has trouble sticking to her mission. He carries himself well in the love scenes as well which are long, graphic, and intense in nature. Leung and Wei both put everything out there for these scenes and they are extremely realistic and raw.
Tang Wei is also a find as she does exceptional work in her first acting role. She carries the film well and exudes a confidence that is demanded by the role and actor. Her struggles are believable and we get to see her really evolve over the course of her arc.
The film as a whole though doesn’t really blend well. The espionage and intrigue work very well for the most part, the Yee and Wong scenes are bit drawn out though. It just feels like its trying to do a lot but saying very little with a number of scenes and points are dragged out a bit after they have already hit home; though the last 20 minutes or so are very thrilling indeed.

The film looks great and Lee’s style and direction is always beautiful. They really captured the era’s look and feel though maybe a bit more time reflecting on the times and conditions, instead of redundant love affair, would have done this film better.
In the end, Lust, Caution is a beautiful and intermittently entertaining epic from Ang Lee. The two stars do some great work and steam up the screen with their love scenes. Only if Lee could have given that intensity and vigor to the entire length of the film, it might have been much more successful.