Jan 25, 2008

Lust, caution / Se, jie

Not too much lust or caution in this film. Honestly, I expected more of a Wong Kar Wai type of emotional drama or at least this was what the title brought to my mind. Instead the film seems to be putting a lot more time and energy into building an espionage thriller than into developing a love story. In addition, the pretext that keeps the whole narrative together is rather fragile. A group of students builds a complicated plan to assassinate a top Chinese official that is part of the collaborationist government during WWII. Part of this plan is for Wong Chia Chi, a young and beautiful student about to start a career as an actress, to infiltrate in his family and lure him into an affair. During the entire 2 hours and 15 minutes you can’t help but wondering why in the world do they need all that scheming when they could just go ahead and kill him. Nevertheless, while the first hour and a half seemed way too long and slow, in the last part the film takes a rather unusual turn (which is good!), and in the end I felt the whole story builds upon the drama of the Stockholm syndrome.

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