Parents' Guide to

Lust, Caution

By Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Explicit, subtitled WWII drama is for adults only.

Movie NC-17 2007 157 minutes
Lust, Caution Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 18+
Explicit sexual content is NOT for kids.

This title has:

Too much sex
age 17+
Minimum age either 16 or 17. Movie is not for children.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (1):

Emotionally wrenching, Lust, Caution has garnered attention particularly for its explicit sex scenes. Several aren't just graphic but also violent, illustrating Yee's cruelty and confusion (he's desperate to feel powerful) as well as Wang's desperate need to feel intimate with him, even at the cost of her well-being. But these scenes also serve a thematic purpose, raising questions about what's "real" in sex performed for films that aren't designated "pornography." At the same time, the sex scenes provide moments of sincere connection for Wang and Yee: The characters see each another as "real" when they engage in sweaty, acrobatic acts, taking emotional risks they don't take at any other time. Vulnerable and aggressive, their closeness in these moments is unsafe -- but also, for them, the safest they feel.

When Wang at last articulates her pain for Kuang and their resistance cell leader, Old Wu (Chung Hua Tou), the scene is startling because of her frankness, as well as the men's abandonment of her. Unlike Yee, who forces his way into her heart, they feel flummoxed by her description of sex and violent fantasies (she imagines shooting Yee herself) and tell her she must continue with the work that is so plainly upsetting her. While the thematic point seems obvious -- that patriotism needs prostitutes -- Wang's anguish and sudden understanding provide this sometimes lugubrious thriller's most chilling moment.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: October 4, 2007
  • On DVD or streaming: February 19, 2008
  • Cast: Joan Chen, Tang Wei, Tony Leung
  • Director: Ang Lee
  • Studio: Focus Features
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 157 minutes
  • MPAA rating: NC-17
  • MPAA explanation: some explicit sexuality.
  • Last updated: March 31, 2022

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