I finally got around to watching one of Ang Lee’s classics, “Lust, Caution”. The story tells the tale of a college student who becomes a rebel in Japanese Occupied Shanghai in 1942. The movie came out in 2007 and has since fallen out of the public eye. I found a copy of it lying around in my giant box of DVDs and decided what the hell, why not give it a go?
What I liked about the movie:
- The acting is top notch. Tang Wei and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai give fantastic performances in their roles. Often I think foreign actors are overshadowed by mainstream ones from the UK, USA, Australia, etc. The actors convey their emotions so well, it’s not even a hindrance to skip out on some of the subtitles and see how they convey the story just from their expressions and demeanor. Their performances are definitely Oscar-worthy.
Tang Wei as Mrs. Mai and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as Mr. Yee
- The movie does an excellent job of capturing what occupied China looked like in 1942. I loved how historically accurate it all looks. From the weapons to the outfits to the historical context of the film, everything was done beautifully. I love period piece films like these and when done right it can transport you right back to the annals of history.
- The story is cohesive. It’s almost like a fairy tale of sorts. Well… a pretty grim and depressing fairy tale hahahaha. It has that cliche assassination trope driving the plot forward, but it has a unique twist and spin to it all. I won’t spoil the movie, but it does an excellent job of putting an original spin on an otherwise over-used assassination thriller trope.
What I didn’t like about this movie:
- This movie is explicitly sexual. When I mean explicit I MEAN EXPLICIT. The version I watched was the original NC-17 cut of the film. Some of the sex in this film is near pornographic (I’m talking full frontal nudity on both the man and the woman). In fact some parts of the movie I felt like I was watching a soft-core porno with a grim tone of a snuff film. Now, I’m not saying that the sex was what made the movie bad. I’m saying that some of the sex scenes in this movie were completely unnecessary and took me away from the film at some points. I felt like that some of them were inserted just for shock value which did nothing for the plot. There are other ways to show “romantic” (if you can even call some of the sex in this film romantic, watch the film and you’ll see what I mean) other than sex.
- I am mixed on the ending. I don’t hate the ending, in fact I did like how it ended, but the entire movie drags on in the middle and rushes towards the end abruptly finishing it. Despite the story being cohesive, the content of it was a bit boring at times. The movie tries to pull a “Reservoir Dogs” by not showing much of the climax and resolution, but it doesn’t work and feels flat and rushed.
The movie was all-in-all a good experience. I was sad to hear that it only made a meager $63,918 in the US. NC-17 films have a stigma towards them that I feel is unjustified.
*MINI RANT* (You can totally skip this, just my take on the rating system for films)
I never quite understood what exactly constituted an NC-17 film. I’ve seen grotesquely violent movies such as the “Evil Dead” remake and immensely disturbing films like “A Clockwork Orange”, the “Death Wish” series (which was both violent and disturbing AND depicted graphic rape) or “Hostel” get away with R ratings but sexuality and nudity in film warrants an NC-17?
I understand this film was pretty vivid in its depiction of sex, but I find it strange how graphic violence and utterly obscene and offensive jokes are alright but somehow nudity and sex is taboo. NC-17 films also have this unnecessary stigma to it. This movie was a good movie that I think people who are interested in period pieces should watch, but it would never see the light of day to anyone because for some reason they would assume that NC-17 means there’s something wrong and off-putting with the movie which is just ludicrous.
Feel free to fact check me or disagree! I’d love to hear your opinions and criticisms!
Overall this movie was thoroughly enjoyable. The movie has immensely graphic sex scenes so if you can handle that you’re fine hahahaha 🙂
I give “Lust, Caution”
7.5/10 – It was good but not flawless.