The dramatic thriller “Lust, Caution” presents the story of people interested in the liberation of China from Japanese occupation in the middle of the 20th century. A group of young actors intends to kill a politician, a representative of the pro-Japanese system of government, but their first attempt is frustrated. Subsequently, when the main heroine is close to the object, feelings arise between them, and she confesses to the official in her mission. The ending of the film is tragic because both the heroine and the members of the underground group are shot.
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In addition to a successful selection of actors and interesting plot twists, such a technique as lighting allows creating a unique atmosphere. Camera work emphasizes the most intense scenes, and the mood of the characters is largely transmitted through the play of light and shadow. For instance, in one of the stills, one can see side lighting that seems to divide the heroine into a dark and light personality.
Another still shows how successful frontal lighting can be, and this effect is created both by an operator and glare from a burning lighter. This technique makes it possible to examine the heroine close and evaluate her condition, for instance, excitement or a mixture of emotions. Moreover, an additional light source enhances the perception effect and focuses viewers’ attention on the character, which is the director’s idea.
Finally, under lighting that may be seen in one of the stills opens the general plan of the scene and allows viewing the silhouettes. According to Bordwell and Thompson, forming a frame due to light makes it possible to achieve a different effect, for instance, the symmetry of space or, conversely, its separation (148). In the given still, this format does not allow seeing many details, but with its help, extra objects are hidden, and the emphasis is on only two characters. In the context of the situation in the film, a mysterious and tense atmosphere is created, and public interest in the further development of events is exacerbated.
Bordwell, David, and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction. 8th ed., McGraw-Hill, 2008.