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Lust, Caution

Lust, Caution (2007)

Ang Lee’s exemplary drama of political and sexual intrigue is what many critics would describe as “awards worthy”. And so it has proven, particularly at the 2007 Venice Film Festival where it won Best Film (as you can see on the poster). And this is a great example of an “awards” poster, as well as being quite beautiful to look at.

The gold and red colouring immediately makes the poster alluring to look at, the warm flesh tones and splashes of vibrant red acting as flashpoints for the eyes, bold highlights that attract the eye and help settle it on the poster as a whole. The beauty of the image is appealing too, the wariness in the eyes of Wei Tang matching the cold stare of Tony Leung, and drawing attention to the tension in their relationship. With a swirl of blood adding an air of danger at the bottom, the drama inherent in the image becomes more potent (even if there’s no clear indication of what that drama encompasses).

But what’s most interesting – and nearly always is with this type of poster – is the choice of quotes. Each one is a lofty superlative drawn from respected reviewers and their publications, and each one leaves the reader with no doubts as to the movie’s quality. But while superlatives on a movie poster aren’t exactly unusual, here they’re just that little bit too effusive, making the movie sound like a masterpiece (which it doesn’t quite live up to).

And then, as if all the praise wasn’t enough, the designer decides to add the text that reminds everyone of Ang Lee’s prowess as a director, quoting his two most popular movies and giving the impression that Lust, Caution is as good (if not worse) than they are. It’s actually a subtle touch, more so than the review quotes, and more likely to draw in an audience. It all adds up to a movie poster that is deceptively effective at promoting the movie, and deceptively evocative at the same time.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to let me know.