Thursday, 25 September 2008

Films and TV: Lust, Caution

My recommendations for films that Mandarin-learning laowai might otherwise have missed.

A spy thriller shot in wartime Shanghai, this was the first Chinese film that I have seen where I could not predict the ending. Lust, Caution is fantastic.

Also, meet my new obsession: Lust, Caution’s lead actress, Tang Wei. Even gratuitous hairy armpit shots of the tormented lead role – a girl caught up in a murder plot - failed to put me off this gorgeous and utterly convincing actress.

Admittedly, I didn’t know what was going on at first – a few rapid dialogues and conversations in both Shanghainese and Cantonese left several gaps in my understanding. However, after a while I had no trouble following the story. 

Ask for 色,戒 Sè, JièChinese: Medium.

The words “Lust, Caution” are a pun, its meaning lost in its English translation and, horror of horrors, lost on me, in either language. "Se" means "colour" as well as "lust"; "Jie" means both "ring" and "caution". So, not only could the title mean "Lust, Caution", it could mean “coloured ring” - a reference to the diamond ring in the film. 

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