Lust, Caution

Lust Caution

The moment I stepped out of the theater after watching Ang Lee’s latest film, “Lust, Caution”, I didn’t believe it’d be possible for me to write a post about it. Words seem so powerless when trying to describe such a powerful cinematic experience.

Yet, the essence of this story was so simple, so haunting that I couldn’t let it go without putting something down. After all, that is why I keep a journal, to record things that’s worth recording.

If you, like most other people, have not seen this film (even in NYC there are only 2 theaters that are showing it), please stop reading. This post is solely intended for people who have watched it and is not a review or intro of any sort. If after watching it you are interested in what I have to say, come back and find this post. I’d love to hear what you think of the film and what you think of my point of view.

***** Spoiler *****

***** Spoiler *****

***** Spoiler *****

“Go, Now!”

I couldn’t get that scene out of my mind for two days now. It was so powerfully shot as if the eyes and the face of the girl when she said those words were imprinted in my brain.

The message was simple:

For a woman, love trumps everything;
For a woman, nothing else in this world matters as much.

This was the anti-Casablanca.

A popular Chinese writer once wrote, “为爱而爱,是神;为被爱而爱,是人” (Love because you are loved, human; love because you just do, saint). Wang Jiazhi was human.

Unfortunately, she was also a woman.

The Desperation

Tony Leung was such an excellent choice for this role. His face and body spoke tension throughout the film. In one scene there was a silent, close-up shot of his face. The heaviness, the emptyness, the desperate sadness, you feel all of those in that one shot. A moment that was unbelievably human.

The Patriotism

This is where only a home-grown Chinese could fully understand, and truly feel. The hot-blooded, wartime Chinese students. The nationalism. And how far the patriotism could make them go. No one, not as far as I’ve seen, has ever portrayed this aspect of the Chinese people so masterfully.


In fact, this entire film, in my humble opinion, is nothing short of a masterpiece. Lots of people have written reviews about it, but for some reason I have not seen many who seem to have truly understood the movie. I dare not say that I have. However, when it is all said and done, Ang Lee has once again made a movie about women.

I can not wait to watch it again.


11 responses to “Lust, Caution

  1. ha great coincidence indeed~

    i love the movie too…and the story stayed in my mind for a couple days…but somehow i cant articulate what I want to say about it…probably need to get in an argument on internet to sort out what is really in my mind ;)

    on the note of patriotism…i tend to think it is not a major motivation for wang to behave in the war times…it is more a background to make everything more dramatic…it is more like a setting so that the story can make some senses…i would believe wang behaved because of her situation (her losing of mom and rejection by father and living precariously with greedy relatives), and the tendency of grabbing anything that shows warmth to her (even if just a little) and the desire to please a crush (chance of staying with him more) and the desire to fit in, to belong to something, just the way life is…she made decision without really knowing where it would take her and without really thinking about consequences…it is like drifting in a river full of other forces that try to pull either way…or every way…

    on another note, i cant decide whether they love each other or not…apparently i don’t really believe that in the original story by eileen chang they loved each other…although i really need to go back to read it again…in some sense, the movie is more like ang lee’s creation based on eileen’s story…ang lee added many warming touches and manipulated more toward the existence of romantic feelings towards each other and therefore left the audience with a stronger impression that love actually happened…i don’t really see things this way…i still think it is a game between them two though there definitely are something underlying what is happening…but whether it is love, i cant say it…

    i am lost in my own thoughts too…so probably just rambling ;)

    • These dresses are atullsbeoy stunning. I recently saw some amazing 1880 s wedding dresses in the series 200 years of Wedding Fashion on Wendy Harmer’s Website, The Hoopla . I think the wedding dresses of today, especially those by Vera Wang, have improved upon the dresses of the past, while also maintaining such a wonderful classic beauty.

  2. no you’re not rambling, but i was… Actually right after I wrote it I realized this was too much of a rambling of mine rather than a legit post… and should’ve categorized it into “Rant” :-p.
    There are things I didn’t make clear what I was referring to. One of them was the paragraph about “the patriotism”. I was talking about the failed attempt by the group of Chinese students 4 years before, the whole depiction of their 冲动和幼稚. It was “their” patriotism, or the patriotism of wartime chinese in general. Didn’t mean to say it was Wang’s patriotism…

    I wrote the post a day after I saw the movie. Now that I’ve thought more about it I’m not so sure if Mr. Yee loved Wang or not (maybe i should watch the movie again :)), But I still feel Wang did what she did out of an emotion that the closest thing to describe was love…

  3. oh i see your patriotism thing now…yeah, i don’t like wang lihong in that part at all…he is too fake…

    i still don’t think wang loved mr yee…but certainly she had feelings for him…however woman’s feelings are a too complicated thing to explain…there are plenty of examples that people either fall in love to their kidnappers and refuse to leave even given chance …it is a weird topic…back to wang…i tend to think she is unable to exert emotional violence as an untrained agent…she is unable to detach and to maintain emotional distance from her prey/captor…

  4. i definitely agree the feelings were very complicated, but i guess the answer I was looking for, if there is one at all (maybe the beauty here is there is not a definitive answer), is “what drove her to do what she did in the end?” If it weren’t love, was it a momentary soften of heart, was it an illusion, or was it a combination of all?

    I found this 3 part Chinese interview with Ang Lee & Tang Wei, thought i’d share it with you here:


  5. 我想,对女人来说,身体的被征服可以连接到爱,到生命;对男人来说,心和身体,可以分得很开。所以说这世上不会有真正的性别平等,因为生来就不平等。

  6. 不过,梁帅哥真的是超帅超性感啊,我一直觉得他和刘JL在一起实在是暴殄天物。


  7. faint, 你现在真得很香港。。。!:)

    而且我觉得有些人说的那种“她只有在变成麦太太的时候才能真正become herself, truly desire and live”的说法很发人深思,像Jie说的,she’s unable to detach… 表演和现实,孰真孰假。。。


  8. I just submitted my post on Lust, Caution to Thoof, and then came across yours there too. I’m glad I did, as I’ve enjoyed reading your post and the comments following.

    I agree that the politics of the film are more than just background, and that it is a very Chinese thing. I am perhaps less sure that it is exclusively a Chinese thing. I think Shakespeare, for instance, often examines the conflict between the public and the private in his plays in a way that is similar to that presented in Lust, Caution. That seems to be lost in the Western world these days, to a great extent, but it’s a concept that is available in the West too, if one looks for it… at least, I think so.

    In my post, I attributed Wang’s change of mind to love too, but I agree with the ideas in the comments here that it wasn’t necessarily “real” love. I do think the emotions certainly got more complicated than what she bargained for, and that this confused her a great deal. At the very least, she was more emotionally attached than she expected to be. I agree with you that it is her inability to detach that really changes things, at the end of the day.

    Nice post! I enjoyed finding your blog through this post.

  9. thank you Shelly… you said it very well about both things, the fact it exists in western culture too and Wang’s complicated feelings…
    I read your post. I’m not familiar with “Antony and Cleopatra” but find what you wrote very interesting…

  10. Thanks for popping by to read, walkingbetween. I’ve been thinking more and more about the movie, and I might do another post on it somewhere down the road. If I do, I will link to you here.

    Nice to meet you!

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