Outside our local theatre tonight: a moody noire-like coming soon poster with a war-era Chinese tinge to it and actors Tony Leung and Wei Tang eyeing each other coyly from across the frame. All of which immediately made me think, “Right on, a new Wong Kar Wai flick.” But it turns out that it is in fact for Ang Lee’s film Lust, Caution.
I am certainly not the first person to have made the WKW connection. Beth Accomando over at KPBS matched up the two images above and writes in her review of the film:
“Focus Features has given the film an ad campaign that makes it look like a moody Wong Kar Wai film. Wong is the Hong Kong director who’s made the rapturously romantic films Chungking Express, In the Mood for Love, 2046 and Fallen Angels among others. Lust, Caution even stars one of Wong’s favorite actors, Hong Kong’s Tony Leung Chiu Wai, a man with deliriously sad eyes. But if the ads lure any Wong fans to the film, they will be sadly disappointed. Wong has a sure handle on what he wants his films to be and to do, there’s no artistic caution on his part. But Wong’s films are not interested in sex as much as they are interested in love. He’s interested in that giddy emotion that can consume people. Lee on the other hand, doesn’t know if he’s interested in the sex, the romance or the passion.”
“Rapturously romantic”…love that turn of phrase. Interestingly, the romance in Wai’s In the Mood for Love is hardly spoken and never consummated; and yet it is one of the most passionate and sexually charged films that you will ever see. Lee’s Lust Caution on the other hand has gained notoriety for its NC-17 rating, which suggests that in the latter film there has been far less restraint. In the end, the marketing angle has worked on its intended audience as I am pretty psyched to check this movie out when it finally makes it into our neighbourhood theatre.
I rented 2046 the other night and found it to be exquisite, which is not a word that I generally throw out there to describe anything, but in this case it seems appropriate. It is the third in a trilogy that pays homage to Wong Kar Wai’s fascination with Hong Kong in the 1960’s. I am inadvertently watching these films in reverse order having rented In the Mood for Love this evening. This is an even better movie than 2046, and now having watched them both, it is curious to observe how one subtly suggests the other and yet each perfectly exists on its own.
These movies have style. It is as though the composition of the shot exists as a supporting character in every scene to such a degree that Wong Kar Wai has been accused by his critics of sacrificing substance in style’s pursuit. But there are compelling stories to be had in both films. Both are meditations on love and its various incarnations, ITMFL dealing with desire, deceit and moral restraint; while 2046 focuses on memory, regret and the passage of time.
Both are highly recommended. More info on Wong Kar Wai can be found here.