Lust, Caution with Ang Lee

Ang Lee is the Oscar-winning director of “Lust, Caution,” which won the top award at the Venice Film Festival. Lee's previous film, “Brokeback Mountain,” also won the jury award in Venice and brought him the Director Oscar.

The Story

Ang Lee: I don't know of any other modern-day Chinese writer who is more revered, loved, and argued over. This short story is different writing than her other works. I believe that in many ways it's her own story. She was inspired by movies, and structured the story as a movie; we just had to fill in the spaces she laid out.

Casting Newcomer Tang Wei

We saw hundreds of actresses. When I saw Tang Wei, I thought, “She has the face of the Southern Chinese lady,” which we needed. When I met her, I could tell she had the temperament as well – which we also needed, to match the character of Wong Chia Chi that Chang Ailing (Eileen Chang) had created. By the end of the audition, it was clear to me that she had great potential to play the many sides of the character. I looked at her, and I believed in her. She had to carry a movie – her first. It was a lot of pressure, and I think she did a fantastic job.

For Tang, the make-up during Wong's student days is very light and natural. During the war years, she wears no make-up. When she becomes Mrs. Mak later, she has very mature make-up. I never had as much fun waiting for a set to be lit as I did with Tang Wei and the other actresses in those scenes; we began to play in between shots.

The young actors in the film were learning about their grandparents' China, which was touching to me. China has been through a lot, and things get lost; if this generation doesn't connect with the past, which one will We wanted to help make that happen. It was part of our mission. When I'm leading a whole group of people, they need to have the courage to expose themselves, so audiences can see something real; that's the beauty of art.

Tony Leung

We did have a little hesitation in casting Tony. Although he is one of the best, if not the best, actors in the Chinese film industry today, he usually plays charming good guys. But he was the one actor I always wanted to work with. In the past, when I worked with Tony, it was always about making him look handsome. On “Lust, Caution,” for the first time, it was not about that. At one point, our cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto said that Tony's make-up had to be changed because under the lighting Tony was appearing too terrifying. He can spot very minor differences; “Is this the same as yesterday” He will make requests according to what the scene requires – say, stronger or softer eyebrows. I liked his aura right away. It was rewarding working with him because he watched very carefully and got more confident as an actor as we went along.

Shoting on Location

Lust, Caution filmed on location across Asia. The first leg of the 118-day shoot was a few days in Malaysia, in the cities of Ipoh and Penang. This was followed by a month in Hong Kong. Re-creating Jane Austen's era [for Sense and Sensibility] was easier…

Film's Title

The title doesn't just refer to love and sex, but to life and art. “Lust for life”; “caution in society.” And it's all from a woman's point of view.