At Sunday's BAFTA screening for Lust, Caution, director Ang Lee explained that this particular nexus between sex and politics scared him to death, which was why he had to do it. He insisted on not cutting the 5 to 10 seconds that would have yielded an R rating. The sex scenes are intensely powerful. (And for some of us, even educational.) And they were much more frightening for Lee to execute than the two gay cowboys in Brokeback Mountain, he said.
The movie is about the possibility that a specific political situation would create two people who are on the one hand enemies--literally seeking to kill one another--and on the other passionately in love. The film is very Chinese, very period, very beautiful, very sexy and very long. And the acting by Tony Leung and newcomer Tang Wei is very fine. Lee described the incredible lengths he had to go to to recreate the costumes, the sets, the aging of the tea cups. The Chinese are not known for preserving their culture, he said dryly.
Lee's native Taiwan has submitted Lust, Caution for the Oscar, beating out the Chinese, who were considering doing the same. It's strong contender in that category, as well as cinematography, art direction and costumes.
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]