Pin It
Favorite

Take Two 

Lust, Caution & r & & r & by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & f you viewed Brokeback Mountain, director Ang Lee's coming out party for the modern cowboy, as a mile-marker on America's quickening road trip to the bowels of hell, Lee's new film, Lust, Caution, should be more than enough evidence to declare him the driver. The film's been rated NC-17 after all, and Spokane -- America's favorite quasi-Midwestern test market -- got one of only a dozen or so copies destined for the States. Satan, it seems, is using our town as a staging area for the de-moral-ing of America.





The strange thing about Lust, Caution, though, is that it's not about what you think it's about. No, unlike Showgirls -- the only other film ever given the key to America's multiplexes despite an NC-17 rating -- Lust, Caution isn't primarily about sex. It's mostly about loyalty.


Set during World War II in Japanese-occupied China, the film follows Wang Jiazhi (Wei Tang), a young college student effectively orphaned when the invasion cuts off her ties to England and to her father. Jiazhi immediately falls in with a group of student agitators, led by a guy named Kuang Yu Min (a stoic Lee-Horn Wang). Yu Min tells her he's starting a theater company to supply the war effort with saccharine patriotism. Jiazhi --with zero acting experience -- wins the lead role. The play is a success but doesn't feel like enough.





Jiazhi is soon summoned back to the theater where a new masquerade is hatched. Yu Min bumped into a childhood friend with connections to Mr. Yee (Tony Leung), an important Chinese figure in the Japanese-controlled government. Yu Min has a plan to kill him. Jiazhi joins up, we sense, because she has nothing better to do.





After a few attempts to catch Yee in public fail, it becomes clear that the group will never get close enough to the man under normal circumstances. The only hope, they think, is if Jiazhi, who has infiltrated Yee's wife's social circle and gained his confidence to a degree, should try to seduce him.





Though similar in form to any number of seduce-and-assassinate plotlines, Lust, Caution's unhurried script and Lee's steady lens take great pains to showcase the na & iuml;ve humanity that underpins the film's three main scenes, a grisly murder and two equally graphic depictions of sex.


These are kids when the film begins, compelled because of war and duty to become killers. The road is rocky. When their initial contact to Yee gets wise of their plan, he confronts them, leading to one of the feeblest murders ever committed to film.





Jiazhi's journey then becomes a solitary one, continuing after Yee as much because of inertia as a sense of purpose. The relationship that develops over three years is as grisly as the murder. Their first liaison ends in rape; subsequent encounters involve rough, angry, painful sex; outside the bedroom he's forceful and distant and inconsiderate. Still, Jiazhi begins to develop a loyalty for the man because, we suspect, he's the only person in her life who wants her for who she is, not what she's capable of accomplishing. A hopelessly sad commentary on the place of women within that society and the way war makes people view even their allies as objects to be exploited, Lust, Caution is a lovely, sickening film. (Rated NC-17)

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Pacifying the Future
  • Pacifying the Future

    A local homebuilder has embraced a design strategy that could be the future of buildings
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • Surge Protectors
  • Surge Protectors

    Solar and wind power need batteries to be reliable; Demand Energy's software makes those batteries more efficient
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • Innovation Station
  • Innovation Station

    Toolbox is a space for innovative products to grow
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Spokane Gives Week

Spokane Gives Week @ Spokane

April 25-May 3

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Restore the Honesty

    Re-establishing trust with the public will require courage on the part of our elected officials
    • Apr 8, 2015
  • Don't Test Me

    The Smarter Balanced standardized test has sparked a rebellion in Western Washington — and it's spreading
    • Apr 15, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation