Uh-oh….Variety‘s Derek Elley is pissing all over Ang Lee‘s Lust, Caution from the Venice Film Festival. (You can trust Elley on this one — no ethnic or nationalistic loyalities in play.) The Elley quote being heard ’round the world is a real stinger: “Too much caution and too little lust squeeze much of the dramatic juice out of…a 2 and 1/2 -hour period drama that’s a long haul for relatively few returns.
“Adapted from a short story by the late Eileen Chang, tale of a patriotic student — who’s willing bait in a plot to assassinate a high-up Chinese collaborator in Japanese-held WWII Shanghai — is an immaculately played but largely bloodless melodrama which takes an hour-and-a-half to even start revving up its motor.
“A handful of explicit sex scenes (in the final act) have earned pic an NC-17 rating in the U.S., where it goes out in limited release Sept. 28. But beyond the notoriety of a Chinese-language picture with full-frontal female nudity, pic lacks the deep-churning emotional currents that drove Lee’s Brokeback Mountain and his best other works. B.O. in the West looks to be modest, once the initial ballyhoo has died down.”