>Lust, Caution (2007) directed by Ang Lee*


The year is 1942 and the place is Shangai, China. Mrs. Mak, the young wife of a business man, participates of a table game she is not really willing to play, but she pretends she’s interested while chatting to the house’s mistress and other women. A man walks in, he’s married to the most animated lady in the table, he lives in that place. He doesn’t seem to show interest as he coldly dialogues with his wife and the guests. However, Mrs. Mak’s eyes denounce that there must be something between these two antagonic figures – herself and the almost taciturn man. But now she’s in a rush, she goes out and enters in a cafe, where she orders in english and later, makes a mysterious phone call. Who is this sophisticated young woman, after all? The answer lies in the past, by the time she was only Wong Chia Chi, a shy freshman at university who used to cry in the movie theater while watching Cary Grant in dramatic/romantic roles. At university she’ll meet a troupe of young actors who uses stage plays as a way to inspire patriotism in the chinese audience (it’s WW2). In her first time on stage, Wong is a natural.

It won’t take long until her new friends tell her about a plan of assassinating a top japanese collaborator, and therefore, a nation’s traidor, and how they would like her to join them. Therefore, she adopts a false idendity, becoming an off stage performer as she masks herself with a seductive look that conceals her post-adolescent features. Her phisical disguise allows her to change among different personalities with confidence, something that won’t be sufficient in order to succeed the plan, ingenuously elaborated from the beggining to its end by everyone else. Amateur actress, amateur spy, one could say. Perhaps all her decisions, from the first meeting with the other young students to the final twist, lies again in her past, in the fact she never really knew genuine love. One offers it to her, but it’s nevertheless too late. The non-gratuitous sex scenes become also a key to comprehend the young woman’s personality, her motivations and attitudes, especially towards the end. And what to say on Ang Lee‘s direction? His camera angles reminded me of the ones from Wong Kar Wai sometimes, as he focuses in small details that hint to the feminine in various moments. The camera who alternates quickly and curiously among each woman’s face as they speak, the red polished nails that manipulate cards during a game, the lipstick mark after tasting coffee… Tang Wei is fragile, strong and subtitle in her first film role, as it should be. She never shakes in the presence of the veteran Tony Leung, whose character is a mystery I couldn’t yet decipher, after all, did he really love that woman?

*Text meant to be posted on march 22, days before the film festival started. Other films seen in march that deserve a few words and haven’t yet be commented: Into the Wild, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood.

6 Comments to “>Lust, Caution (2007) directed by Ang Lee*”

  1. >Romeika, tenho muita curiosidade em assistir a este filme, mesmo ele não tendo sido muito bem recebido pela crítica. A história do filme tem mesmo um quê das obras de Wong Kar Wai. Além disso, "Lust Caution" conta com a presença do ator favorito do diretor: o Tony Leung.Ouvi falar maravilhas da performance da Tang Wei. Pelo que entendi do seu texto, você gostou muito da atuação dela.

  2. >Eh verdade, Kamila, o Leung participou de tantos filmes do Kar Wai. Penso que o papel no filme do Ang Lee eh bastante diferente do que ele interpretou em pelo menos um filme do Kar Wai com ele que vi, "In The Mood for Love".Nao sabia da recepcao ruim da critica. Eu gostei do filme, ainda que teria preferido um desfecho diferente pra historia (mas isso opiniao subjetiva, nao negativa com relacao ao filme). Adorei a atuacao da Tang Wei! Eh incrivel como ela transmutou tao bem entre menina timida e mulher sofisticada.

  3. >Romeika, o filme não foi bem aceito, a princípio. Acho que até chegou a ser vaiado depois de ganhar um prêmio num desses festivais importantes de cinema.

  4. >I saw this film in February in the FICCO here in Mexico and I didn't comment it because some things really didn't like m like the too-much-Wong-Kar-Wai cinematographic and the excessive sex in the history (it didn't boder me, but I think that it didn't help much to the history); bit I love Tang Wei, she is strong and at the level because the story is strong enough, the story I also like it and the concussion, It would be horrible if the ending would be any other. The art was excellent.I like Ang Lee (I think the only movie that I didn't like of him was "Ride with the devil", the rest are from good to excellent) but he made a mistake to imitate Wong Kar Wai, even that Rodrigo Prieto is not my favorite cinematographer (even that he's mexican, sorry, I hate Babel, I hate Alexandro).I want to see the Uncut director Cut that was only released in Hong Kong and NY, just to see what he commit auto censorship, in any case I recomended to see "Lost, Caution" to everyone because only my (and two other people complain about the cinematography).Cheers, I expect your comments on "No Country for old men" and "There Will Be Blood", I haven't see: Into The Wild, but I am waiting to see it.Cheers fron this side of the planet

  5. >Ainda não vi o filme , mas quero muito ver!

  6. >Kamila, o filme pode nao ser uma obra-prima, nem eh meu favorito do Ang Lee, mas vaiar eh um exagero, que coisa! :-SA.R, I didn't think Ang Lee emulated Kar Wai style, I think it was good the way he emphasized costumes, make-up and the sensual/feminine element, because that's big part of the lead female character changes along the film. The sex scenes, like I wrote on the post, were also helpful for me to understand their relationship, as there was not much talk going on, so I found it very intelligent to use sex scenes the way he did. I think you're right about the end, I think it was realistic, and it shouldn't be different.I haven't seen "Ride with the devil", but now you've mentioned it I'm curious, as there's nothing from Lee I've seen so far that I didn't like. I had no idea about a director's cut out there, I'd like to see it too. Cheers!

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