Ang Lee at his best…
2007, Chinese with English subtitles
Directed by the master filmmaker, Ang Lee, ‘Lust, Caution’ is an intense espionage / love story (or shall I say lust story) set in Shanghai and Hong Kong during the period of the second Sino–Japanese war (the film is set between 1938 and 1942, while the war happened between 1937 and 1945). During this period, China was ruled by a puppet government led by Wang Jingwei.
The film traces a group of Chinese university students who decide to make a contribution to the war by assassinating a high ranking official in the puppet government, Mr. Yee (played by Tony Leung Chiu–Wai). An elaborate plan is made and a young, shy student, Wong Chia Chi (played by Tang Wei) is chosen to play the most important and dangerous part. She is transformed into a glamourous and rich society lady by the name of Mrs. Mak who is supposed to find her way into the Yee household. All actors are brilliant, especially Tang Wei who has an extremely complex role. Unlike other espionage films, there is not much action but each scene is full of tension. Such is the power of great writing, editing and of course direction. Ang Lee proves that you need not have gun chase sequences to make a good thriller; it is all in the mind.
Lust, Caution is beautifully shot and each frame is just perfect. The production design is outstanding as you are transported in another era. The styling is just perfect, capturing the contrast between the war-striken poor and the glamourously dressed society ladies. The background score also goes extremely well with the mood of the film.
The film won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, the Golden Lion and was widely acclaimed the world over. The film garnered a lot of press, thanks to the explicit sex scenes, however there is much more to the film. It is a masterpiece and one of the finest movies I have seen. A must watch.
My Rating: * * * * 1/2 Four and a half stars on five
– Shrey Khetarpal
PS: Anupam Kher has a cameo in the film