Reviews: Lust Caution

Not quite getting it.

So it is called Lust, Caution and it has an 18 rating (NC-17, in the US). When I picked up this controversial film, I was expecting something pretty severe. I still don't think I was adequately prepared.

For the first Act, Lust, Caution is mostly harmless. No violence, no action, not even any real swearing. Just character development. After half an hour of nothing more provocative than students spouting naive propaganda, I was feeling I wasn't getting my moneys worth. And then it hits you like a concrete dodgeball.

I kept having to give apologetic looks to my flat mates, who thought I was watching hardcore porn in the living room. The entire second act mostly consists of brutal rape/sex scenes in which the actors appear to be having genuine sex. It is certainly shocking, but it is to the detriment of the movie. Whenever these actors peform a violent sex scene, I stopped engaging with the drama and kept thinking about the actor's wellbeing.

This is a character piece, so there isn't a great deal in the way of plot. It has romance, certainly. But it is one of the least "romantic" films I have ever seen. It seems like a deconstruction of romance: the woman is brutalised and punished by her relationship with the antagonist, until she falls in love with him. It can only end really badly.

Lust, Caution can be unpleasant to watch. Don't go into it looking for a romantic flick. Go into it as though you are about to go into seeing Schindler's List. Some may be very irritated/suprised by the ending, but I felt it suited the depressive mood of the film and served to subvert audience expectations. It is a highly provocative movie. I won't say it is a bad movie, but I'm not sure why anyone would want to watch something so miserable. Don't bother with this one unless you are in the mood for something pensive, depressing and grotesque.