Is Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution a Dud?

It would appear Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution”, his 1940s-era Chinese movie set in Shanghai during World War II, is not, as the kids would say, “all that”. At least, according to Variety, which writes: “Beyond the notoriety of a Chinese-language picture with full-frontal female nudity, pic lacks the deep-churning emotional currents that drove Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain” and his best other works.” I think that means they aren’t very impressed.

More from the review:

Both Leung and newcomer Tang — whose characters are far more charismatic and attractive than in Chang’s original short story — do strike some sparks, especially in the sex scenes, which are very bold by Chinese standards. (A tamer version will reportedly be released in mainland China.) But for most of the film, the two dance around each other in conversations that don’t have much electricity or sense of repressed passion — and vitally, no sense of the real danger that Wang is courting in the game of cat-and-mouse.

And what of the much ballyhooed NC-17 that the film just got slapped with? It was rumored that the culprits were a handful of explicit sex scenes between the two leads.

Apparently there are “a handful of explicit sex scenes” squeezed into the film’s Third Act, which means if you’re looking at this for the sex (you perv), you’ll have to sit through at least two hours of this two and a half hour movie that Variety calls “a 2½–hour period drama that’s a long haul for relatively few returns”.

Eh, they’ve been wrong before…