Ang Lee walks into the hotel room looking like a man who hasn't slept for weeks. He's flown from Toronto, to Venice, to New York in a matter of two days. Why all the globetrotting? Because in the middle of premiering Lust, Caution in Toronto, it's announced that he's won the Golden Lion, the top prize at the esteemed Venice Film Festival. This is the second win for Lee. He also won in 2005 for Brokeback Mountain. Lust, Caution is an ultra-explicit, sordid espionage thriller set in World War II Shanghai. Tang Wei, astonishing in her debut film, stars as a young woman recruited to seduce and kill a murderous Japanese collaborater during the occupation. It is beautiful and tragic, and yes, totally deserving of the NC-17 rating. Watch the exclusive interview below!
Despite his exhaustion, Ang Lee was forthcoming and congenial in our interview. The man, despite all his accolades and success, is a humble artist at heart. He speaks at length about casting the unknown Tang Wei opposite Tony Leung, a titan of modern Asian cinema. He also spoke about how the NC-17 rating will affect the film. It may hinder the box office release, but he won't alter his vision to get it into a few more theaters. And his distributor, Focus Features, agrees with him. Lust, Caution will be hard to find. But like any treasure, the payoff is worth it. Lust, Caution is another masterpiece from one of the greatest artists of our day.