Lust, Caution (18)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner19/10/2007

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 158 mins

Superbly written, beautifully shot and emotionally powerful espionage thriller with a terrific central performance from newcomer Tang Wei.

What's it all about?
Directed by Ang Lee and based on a short story by Chinese author Eileen Chang, Lust, Caution is set during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai. Newcomer Tang Wei plays Wong Chia Chi, a young student whose talent for acting brings her to the attention of a radical resistance group. Her task is to infiltrate herself into the life of influential Japanese collaborator Mr Lee (Tony Leung), in order to determine the optimum time and place for an assassination attempt.

Posing as Mrs Mak, a wealthy businessman's wife, Wong performs her job well, but complications arise when she finds herself falling in love with him.

The Good
Newcomer Tang Wei was chosen from over 10,000 actresses, which is remarkable, especially considering the intensity of some of the scenes in the film – for example, there are several extremely intimate sex scenes, as Lee and Wong enter into an affair that is practically sadomasochistic in nature. As such, Tang Wei's performance is nothing short of astonishing, while there's strong support from the always excellent Tony Leung and from Joan Chen as Lee's wife.

The film is beautifully shot, courtesy of cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, as well as a sumptuous score by gloriously named composer Alexandre Desplat. In addition James Schamus's script is excellent, beautifully capturing the tensions between what is said on the surface versus the hidden passions of the characters.

The Great
Ang Lee orchestrates some terrific sequences, most notably a horrific murder that occurs in the middle of the film and an emotionally devastating scene in which Wang talks about letting Lee into her heart. There are also several memorable images and scenes, such as when Wong sings for Lee during an assignation in a Japanese brothel.

Worth seeing?
Lust, Caution is a thoroughly absorbing, beautifully shot and superbly acted thriller that is both nail-bitingly suspenseful and extremely moving. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Lust, Caution (18)
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Content updated: 19/10/2017 13:49

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