Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lust, Caution! 超赞!90%

The brilliance of Ang Lee shines brightly through the latest of his espionage, suspense, erotic thriller - the description of which I find somewhat misleading. I find at the heart of it all, is a heart wrenching love story. The film has garnered its load of coverage due to its explicit sex scenes and having watched the version in New York City (yes, get jealous you fellow Singaporeans), I can say it is pretty justified - there are a ton of those scenes to behold.

Why is this film brilliant? The dialogues are brilliant, the sets are gorgeous, great staging and the delivery of some of the best scenes I've seen in any movie.

One of my favourites is the opening scene in the film - it sets the mood nicely for what's to come. A majong scene where words are exchanged like firearms going off and where the words are in no connection to the game that they are playing, the words themselves appear to have hidden meanings. And the exchanges were fast and furious, adding to the intensity of the quick cuts used. Who would have thought majong could be so intense? :)

Then another brilliant scene which I loved, was when Wang Jiazhi (the character player by Tang Wei) sang a classic chinese tune to the national traitor Mr Yee (played by Tony Leung), in a Japanese drinking place. She says "I sing better than the Japanese" and here on, she used the song to move Mr Yee to tears. The staging of the scene was awesome, and it held so many layers and subtexts which made it my absolute favourite moment of the film.

Oh so what's the story about? Basically, Wang (Tang Wei) is a theater actress who is recruited by the Chinese rebels to spy on and assassinate Mr Yee, who is a Chinese traitor working for the Japanese. Using sex to seduce Mr Yee, Wong finds herself eventually falling for him as Mr Yee slowly opening up to her.

A the end of the film, I'm left with the question of whether sex without love, can eventually lead to true love? Or was the love between Mr Yee and Wang developed outside of their sexual encounters?

Great Film ... please watch it people!


Anonymous said...

Was it love? After the wild tryst in the hotel room, Tang Wei told Tony Leung, "Now you have to get me an apartment," her price for prostituting herself. But when she got that humongous diamond ring, she wanted him more alive than dead. Did she sell out her patriotism for love or for richness? I think the latter because she refused to take the poison pill. This is a movie that invites much debate.

gooi tah choe said...

The original short story starts with a mahjong scene. What is interesting about Ang Lee's adaptation is his ability to fill in the "empty spaces" in the story written in a rather cool and disjunct fashion. And a unique thing about the ending:

This is a story which is not possibly written by a man :)

A more probable intepretation of the last part in response to "anonymous":

If you notice, the only thing which is real is Mr. Yu's love for Jiazi. Every other things have to be acted out: Jiazi acting as the wife of some business man; Yu's acting as the gentle husband. The whole film is not a spy movie, but about "acting" and role play.

The sex scenes are very very important, because they put the role play in a most difficult situation. How do you not be yourself when you are having sex unless perhaps you are a professionally trained spy-prostitute? It is a struggle for Jiazi as well as for Yu. And Yu's is most true to his own character during sex--the violent interrogator, and a character which is not really socially friendly. Jiazi saw the real Yu, and this is perhaps the most truthful thing that she has seen (apart from the intangible patriotism and mahjong game). And gradually Jiazi gradually fell into the character that she did not want to be. Eventually, the ring has defined her in her role. She cannot betray the only real thing she can cling on as the mistress--i.e. Yu's feeling for her ("It is not about the ring...", as Yu said). Which is also why she let Yu go. Did she love Yu? She may not in her true "self", but what is her "true self"? She seemed inevitably fall for the role as a mistress.

That said, Zhang Ailing's character is usually very complex, and Ang Lee has done a fantastic job in capturing this complexity but leave , as in the short story, some very crucial aspects open to interpretation. You cannot imagine a Hollywood director making this kind of movie without narrating too much (problems when they remade "The Ring" and "Infernal Affair")

gooi tah choe

Anonymous said...

I have seldom watched any movie because of busy work commitment. I only get to know this film late 2008 and watch it. I praise Lee Ang and his crew's brilliant work, especially the sex scenes, which are necessary to tell the story. I have seen many movies with sex scenes and this film is the best so far. just compare Basic Instinct - how? No match? The scenes look so real and beautiful though a bit of violence. But, violence is necessary in this film's plot. Without these sex scenes, the movie is not complete. Not sure if Sinkies have the chance to see the uncut version. What i know in this country even R21 films are cut subject to a small group of people called censors. Sinkies should try seeing this overseas uncut version.

To answer your the question of whether sex without love, can eventually lead to true love? Yes, a couple will eventually develop love if these 2 persons are having frequent and regular sex because sex is a way of communication. Sex without love is not sustainable. The film of course will not be able to show every sex act the couple did. In real life, they must have done many times and enjoyed sex. So, love between Mr Yee and Wang would be developed both inside and outside of their sexual encounters. Needless to say, whenever they met, they will have sex and then talk - this is communication and eventually love developed. Got it. So, advice to any family person who has one night stand or sex encounter, should keep the relationship short and few sex acts before love develops if you do not wish to destroy your family.

Lastly, this is a film worth watching. It can be watched again and again and sure enjoying the story and scenes and the background music. Get a DVD then, collectable item.

Tell you. my husband and I have enjoyed this fine movie and we together have seen it a few time.

Anonymous said...

Human has feeling. So, frequent and regular sex will create love, especially the woman. Man and woman have different feels during sex. Man is more physical but for woman to accept a foreign object into her body and the man's body fluid to be deposited into her body is much more than physical. Sometime it is more emotional than physical. , Even if the mistress may initially do it for money, regular sex can lead to feels on that man.

The film is good and worth watching indeed.