Sunday, January 20, 2008

After having watched the (uncensored) version of Lust, Caution (Se4 Jie4), it only underscored my belief that Tony Leung Chiu Wai is one of the greatest actors of our time. He has the most expressive eyes ever, and doesn't ever need to resort to the usual devices which most Hollywood actors tend to use to just be in the moment. I found his performances in this movie, and in Infernal Affairs (Wu2 Jian4 Dao4) breathtaking; in fact, the original ending for Infernal Affairs just about broke my heart. It doesn't matter whether he plays a hero or a villain. He's just awesome.

As for Lust, Caution, Lee Ang made Japanese-occupied Shanghai look amazing. I'm not sure about the historical accuracy; I was incredibly surprised to see Caucasians and mainly English-speaking cafes present in the city given that I thought the main reason Japan invaded Asia was because they wanted to assert their Asian supremacy, and, therefore, would most likely have wanted to stamp out all Western influence, but I could be wrong.

It was difficult to believe that this was Tang Wei's debut performance. She did a brilliant job as the tortured spy who falls in love with the man she's betraying. And the various qi pao she wears during the movie are gorgeous.

That's really all I have to say about the film. Because of the graphic sex scenes - unusual for a Chinese movie - the media have already dissected this movie to death, so I don't think I can offer any commentary or insight you wouldn't have read elsewhere anyway.

I will, however, state that I'm not entirely sure how the physical affair first starts out because, to my mind, the first encounter the two lovers partake of looked a lot like a violent rape to me. And even though I'm a female and I know how much love can make you a little crazy, I still can't quite see how that would have drawn her to him in the first place. Once we get past that, I can comprehend why she stays with him - because she enjoys the violence and brutality of their lovemaking, so unlike her first sexual experiences, and that it gives her joy which she most likely hasn't enjoyed in her life ever given her family background and the era in which she grew up in - but still, that first moment is where I get a little confused.

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