Lust, Caution

Director Ang Lee’s World War II drama set in Shanghai is a mighty good-looking film, with an eye-popping actress (Tang Wei) at its center. Lee sets the wheels in motion for what looks to be an interesting story about spies, intrigue and strange love. Then, the film just meanders on too long, failing to ignite despite the fine Wei performance and the presence of an impressive Tony Leung as the man her character is forced to seduce in a plot to assassinate him. Lee’s film originally garnered an NC-17 for sex scenes, some forced and violent, that definitely push a few boundaries. But the story these controversial scenes are trying to serve is stretched out far too long to be effective. The film almost rescues itself with a haunting ending that leaves an impression, but the overall effect is that too much time was wasted. Lee is a great director, and this amounts to a mild disappointment.

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