Sunday evening I ventured to the Claremont Laemmle to see the new Ang Lee movie, “Lust, Caution.” This is the first NC-17 movie to play Claremont and the first such movie produced in several years. It got the rating for its sexual content.
Slightly furtively, a friend and I bought tickets, gave them to the ticket-tearer and took our seats. The theater was two-thirds full with people of all ages. I think I saw a former councilwoman but under the circumstances decided not to make direct eye contact.
The story is set in China in the 1940s when Japan controlled the country. A Chinese collaborator with the Japanese regime is targeted by a group of amateur patriots from a drama troupe. A woman from their group manages to get close to him. Very close. NC-17 close.
Honestly, this was a classy movie and the two or three sex scenes were uncomfortable to watch (on purpose) but not especially long — at least not relative to a movie that lasts 2:48. I doubt it was as shocking as the torture-porn of the “Saw” and “Hostel” movies that somehow get R ratings.
While I liked “Lust, Caution,” it moves at, shall we say, a stately pace, and I don’t see myself watching it again. It’s very well made, and worth watching, but perhaps more to be admired than loved. In its final week, it’s playing just one show a day, at 5 p.m., and ends Thursday. So if you’re motivated to see it, this is no time for caution.