Friday, May 14, 2010

Lust, Caution

I have been meaning to write this review for some time now, especially considering the amount of controversy that it has stirred up. From the nude sex scenes to the banning of the lead actress, Tang Wei, in China. It wasn't until I read an article on Tang Wei's courageous and gutsy comeback into the film industry that I decided to finally pen this piece.

This film adaptation of Eileen Chang's famous short story was absolutely sublime. The pacing, acting, music, scenes, and colors that generated the overall atmosphere for the movie had to have been designed and planned by a mind that is very sensitive yet bold to the sight and sounds that is in the film's director, Ang Lee. With that said, this movie is about the details. The very little intricate details that most fail to appreciate. I watched this movie 3 times, and every time I noticed something I hadn't before. It was like reading a great novel, it gets better with every read-through.

From the beginning scene of the four women playing cards, it was evident to me that a lot of attention had to be paid to the screen. The dialog is simple, without many words, such that each actor/actress's facial expressions and body language became an important source in communicating their state of mind to the audience. A picture speaks a thousand words. Every scene showed meticulous control over every moving part. It's was akin to a piece of music where every note was meant to be. The overall atmosphere felt very raw, and real. Aside from the purposefully yet tasteful saturation of colors, it didn't overload your senses. Aside from the vivid sex scenes of course, which in my opinion were essential to the movie. The rest of the film was done in such a way that it couldn't use a epic music score, action sequence, and many things that is present in most films. It relied on accentuating with less, and that is much more difficult to pull off in my opinion.

I became an instant fan of Tang Wei after this film. People unfairly dismissed her acting skills because of her rise to fame over this movie. The actress I saw on screen was absolutely amazing. It's no surprised Ang Lee picked her for the role. There's simply no one else that could've replaced her. She was a very mature actress that had a lot of talent and knew how to use it. That could've only came from someone that had a true passion for the arts and spent years honing their craft. I loved her acting within minutes of the movie. She had the uncanny ability to communicate a lot without saying much. Like a jazz singer that interprets a song not through powerful and rangy vocals, but through tone, texture and granular control.

The level of intricacy is deep and rare, such that I believe it's hard for most people to appreciate. It's a shame that the hype over the sex scenes made people blind about what is really great about this movie. I've read and heard much criticism of this film. Most of which tastelessly centered around the notion that it's artsy porn. I was disappointed in people's reception, but I also understood it. This movie wasn't meant to appeal to the masses. I just hoped that more people would see what I saw, and appreciate it the way I did. I can only hope this review does the film some justice.

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