Fall always means Oscar contention for distributors, which means that the spy movies get more serious. Gone are the summer action extravaganzas; here come the thought-provoking examinations of history, current events and the psychological toll of being a spy. Will this year bring another Lives of Others? Only time will tell. Last week's The Kingdom (which really belonged in the summer) certainly wasn't it, but maybe Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee has a shot.
Lee's new NC-17-rated epic, Lust, Caution, is being advertised as "an erotic espionage thriller." Based on a short story by Chinese author Eileen Chang, the film stars newcomer Tang Wei as a shy drama student recruited into an assassination plot in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. At the behest of her new controllers, she transforms herself in order to seduce a Japanese collaborator to orchestrate his assassination. But unused to living a life of deception, she soon finds herself falling in love with her target.
Lust, Caution won top honors at the Venice Film Festival last month. I hope that bodes well for the film. I'm a fan of most of Ang Lee's work, and I'm definitely looking forward to his shot at the spy genre. The trailer looks great.