Lust, Caution | Chicago Reader

Lust, Caution

Ang Lee's follow-up to Brokeback Mountain is a surprisingly monotone and overextended period spy drama set in Japanese-occupied Shanghai in 1942 and Hong Kong a few years earlier; the mainly inexpressive cast (Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Tang Wei, Joan Chen, Wang Leehom) specializes not only in stiff upper lips but stiff lower lips as well. Based on a short story by Eileen Chang, this tale of a college student (Tang) who joins the resistance and sets herself up as sexual bait to help assassinate a wealthy Chinese collaborator (Leung) disappoints even in its incidentals (the fancy clothes and the settings pale beside those in period efforts by Stanley Kwan and Wong Kar-wai), and the bursts of sex and violence that earned this picture an NC-17 rating offer only temporary respite from the encroaching dullness. In English and subtitled Cantonese, Japanese, Mandarin, and Shanghainese. 157 min.

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