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Lust, Caution


Stars: Tang Wei, Tony Leung, Joan Chen, Wang Lee-Hom, Anupam Kher

Director: Ang Lee

Though it's the graphic sex scenes that will earn it notoriety, this is basically an old chestnut, dressed in epic clothing, about the Resistance heroine who falls in love with the enemy she is supposed to be spying on and setting up for a kill.

The film, for no good reason, opens in the Japanese-occupied Shanghai of 1942 then flashes back four years to where the story starts. Our pretty heroine, Wong (gorgeous newcomer Tang Wei), deserted by a father who has fled to England in the face of the Sino-Japanese conflict, becomes part of a university drama group which soon reveals itself to be a nest of subversives planning to assassination of Yee (Leung), who is collaborating with the Japanese enemy.

Despite Wong's losing her virginity in preparation for seducing Yee, the plan fails to come to fruition. Three years later, Wong again finds herself volunteering for a similar plan. This time, she succeeds in becoming Yee's lover, and finds him violently infatuated with her. The end is slightly anti-climactic: one expects Wong to be either rescued ot swallow her suicide pill, neither of which happens. In any case, the fates of the leading characters in this exquisitely-set and photographed film don't somehow drag us along with them.

All the movie references are right save one. The characters couldn't have been watching Ingrid Bergman's US remake of Intermezzo in 1938. It wasn't made 'til the following year. Honourably close but no cigar.

David Quinlan

USA/Hong Kong/China/Taiwan 2007. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by deluxe.
158 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 3, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 29 Dec 2007