Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution Gets an NC-17 Rating

Ang Lee’s latest movie, the Shanghai-set, World War 2-era espionage film “Lust, Caution” has been slapped with the dreaded NC-17 rating by the U.S.’s MPAA. But that’s not the real surprising thing — it’s that the film’s studio, Focus Features, has accepted the rating. Apparently the filmmakers, including co-writer James Schamus, always knew the film would receive an NC-17 (Adults Only) rating, given that the movie features “implied oral sex and full female frontal nudity” from the cast. Also, there’s the matter of “extended “” and vigorous “” lovemaking from a variety of provocative sexual positions”. Oh my, I’m getting flustered just writing that.

Based on Eileen Chang’s short story about a shy Chinese drama student drawn into an assassination plot against a Japanese collaborator during WWII, the Mandarin-language pic is one of the label’s big hopes for the upcoming kudos season. Tony Leung and newcomer Tang Wei star.

The film was screened for the MPAA, the rating was given, and Focus Features accepted the rating the same day. Wow.

Perhaps Schamus said it best:

“As with so many of his previous films, Oscar-winning director Ang Lee has crafted a masterpiece about and for grown-ups.”

So let’s summarize: two men having gay sex = R-rating; two Chinese people having heterosexual sex = NC-17. Gotcha. Thanks for clearing that up, Hollywood.

Ang Lee