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Movie Review: Lust, Caution

Alternate Title: Sex, Lies and Espionage

Story: Director Ang Lee challenges his audiences. He paints beautiful canvas' in all of his films and this award winning one is no exception. His skill is such that he adeptly transports us to the time and place of his films. This time out is the Japanese occupation of China. It takes place mostly in Shanghai from 1938 to 1942. The screenplay is by James Schamus and Wang Hui-Ling and is based on the short story by Eileen Chang.

A college age group of theater students try to fight the occupation through patriotic dramatic works. They graduate to real espionage when they try to assassinate the Chinese collaborators who align with the Japanese and murder the members of the Chinese Resistance. The youngest, most beautiful member of the group does the heavy lifting and risks the most when she becomes the lover of the most notorious collaborator.

The buzz and whispers about the sex scenes are true. It received an NC-17 rating because the sex is wild, heavy, hot and leaves little to the imagination. However, it is not at all gratuitous. Ang Lee clearly demonstrates what people will do during war time and the sex scenes are perhaps the only time in the film when emotions are truly out in the open.

This film demands patience from the audience. Lee takes a long time to tell the story but if you sit back, enjoy the detail, watch the incredible acting and the beautiful cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto time will go quickly for you.

Acting: Tony Leung (Infernal Affairs, In the Mood for Love) as the collaborator is brilliant. He is scary, brutal, intense and riveting. Tang Wei, in her debut performance is amazing. She is beautiful, brave and totally believable. There are strong performance throughout the entire ensemble cast including: Chiu Wai, Joan Chen, Wang Lee-Hom

Predilection: I like Ang Lee's films.

Critters: Three guard dogs

Food: It's China - of course there is food and lots of it.

Sex Spectrum: The sex is definitely high on the spectrum. It is not always warm and fuzzy, so beware of some of the brutality.

Blatant Product Placement: War is hell.

Soundtrack: Terrific

Visual Art: The attention to detail is perfect.

Theater Audience: Not very crowded for a Wednesday afternoon.

Weather: China has lots of weather. Hot, cold and in-between.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: There is very sudden violence scene and some of the sex is very brutal.

Drift Factor: I did not drift at all.

Predictability Level: I was not sure what was going to happen.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Probably

Big Screen or Rental: If you are going to be brave and see this film then the big screen is the way to go. For some other fine films by Ang Lee check out: Brokeback Mountain, Hulk, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Ice Storm, Sense and Sensibility, Eat Drink Man Woman, The Wedding Banquet

Length: Forty minutes over the two hour rule. It would have helped my attention span if it had been shortened by about 20 minutes or so.