LUST, CAUTION (Alliance, 2007) D: Ang Lee, w/ Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Tang Wei. Rating: NN; DVD package: NN
This would’ve been a good movie at 90 minutes. At two hours and 39 minutes, it’s a handsome bore. There’s one thin, two-character storyline, and by an hour in, we know exactly where it’s going.
Ang Lee gets good performances from his leads, Tony Leung Chiu Wai as the Chinese collaborator with the Japanese occupation, and newcomer Tang Wei as the young drama student sent in to set him up for assassination. Lee gives them lots of tight close-ups and significant glances, so we know what they’re feeling, even in the sex scenes.
Trouble is, he gives lots of similar glances to the ladies who play mah-jong constantly but play no part at all in the drama.
Occupied Shanghai in 1942 looks absolutely convincing. Sadly, we’re still looking at its shop windows during the climax in a set of shots that suggest nothing so much as a director trying to get value for money out of his enormous outdoor set.
Lightweight extras and one 15-minute making-of doc suggest there’s a special edition coming six months down the road, and it might be worth waiting for. This is a personal film for Lee; his insights could add a lot.
Extras Making-of doc. Widescreen. Mandarin, French audio. English, French, Spanish subtitles.