Lust, Caution Ang Lee

Lust, Caution Ang Lee
The director who brought us such tender love stories as Brokeback Mountain and visual feasts like Eat Drink Man Woman and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon tries his hand at something sort of new: an erotic spy story. It’s full of the gorgeous backdrops and beautiful cinematography we’ve come to expect from Lee but it’s also got some full frontal nudity. The tale of espionage is set in WWII-era Shanghai and follows Mrs. Mak (newcomer Wei Tang), a sophisticated would-be spy and member of a radical group, and the man she is supposed to seduce and ultimately assassinate: government minister/Japanese collaborator Mr. Yee (Tony Leung). Watching the quiet heartthrob from In the Mood for Love administer a sexy belt whipping to a sweet young thing is both jarring and alluring at once. The actors give fiery, passionate performances and it’s pretty compelling to watch them walk the line between agony and pleasure. The spy story is a bit slow-paced, but the lyrically raunchy sex makes up for it, for the most part. Lee metes out the lust amid long stretches of caution (if you’ll forgive the play on the title) and at nearly two hours and 40 minutes, the film does feel a bit long. Wartime complications and entanglements take so long to unfold that the suspense and tension are almost lost in the lush scenery. Think Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book but with more attraction and less abjection. Lee doesn’t shy away from intruding on the lovers’ trysts with his camera, penetrating each painful and intimate moment with a piercing yet tender eye. The DVD also includes "Tiles Of Deception, Lurid Affections,” an interesting "making of” featurette that explores Lee’s meticulous recreation of old Shanghai and his passionate direction of the talented cast. (Alliance Atlantis)