Lust, Caution

Composed by: Alexandre Desplat

Distributed by: Decca Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            In 1938, Wong Chia Chi was a shy young woman attending her freshman year of university in China.  Shy as she is, a friend convinces her to join an acting club, and it is here that Wong Chia Chi finds her true calling.  However, her inspirational performances as an actress are put to a test when the clubís members are used to carry out a plan to assassinate a top Japanese collaborator named Mr. Yee.  This is no short term goal and Wong Chia Chi finds herself swept up in a plot of espionage and terror.  This is the plot of Lust, Caution, a movie based upon a short story by Eileen Chang.

            French composerAlexandre Desplat was called upon to create the soundtrack for Lust, Caution.  This movie marks the second time that Desplat has worked on a period piece set in China.  His first such work was The Painted Veil, a score he worked on with Chinese pianist Lang Lang.  With The Painted Veil, Alexandre Desplat earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.  It is no secret why such a talent would be selected to compose the musical score of Lust, Caution.

            Immediately upon placing this CD in the player, one is immediately aware that this is a period piece.  The music reflects upon a different time and place and the listener is instantly aware of this via a manipulation of the sound.  The listener will imagine his or herself seated in front of a WWII-era radio, listening to the beautiful sounds of a city in the midst of a tumultuous battle of espionage and intrigue.  The music throughout the Lust, Caution soundtrack contains an exotic beauty that rivals that of the Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack I reviewed some time ago.  However, there is an underlying dark tone throughout the soundtrack that signifies evil-doings underfoot.  The beauty of Wong Chia Chiís Theme is threaded throughout many of the tracks in Lust, Caution.  As the soundtrack plays on, the beauty that is her musical theme becomes tainted as her acting abilities bring her closer to her goal. 

            Alexandre Desplatís talent as a composer is impressive.  The soundtrack of Lust, Caution contains 22 tracks of music, each a testimony to beauty; each telling its own tale.  In addition to Alexandre Desplatís compositions, Lust, Caution contains Brahms Intermezzo In A Major Op. 118 No. 2, a beautiful piece of classical music, performed by renowned pianist Alain Planes.  Another notable performance on the soundtrack can be found in the track Nanjing Road in which Director Ang Lee plays piano.  The Lust, Caution soundtrack I had the pleasure of listening to contained two bonus tracks named Seduction and Desire.  Although these tracks did not make it into the movie, they are equal in beauty and composition to the rest of the tracks in the album and deserve the honorable mention. 

            All-in-all, I found the music of Lust, Caution to be very soothing and quite enjoyable.  The exotic flavor mixed with the classical undertones transport the listener to another place and time.  As a frequent reviewer of movie soundtracks, I find that the best soundtracks are those that make you forget all of the hassles of the day, soothing your senses and allowing you to roam freely on the roads of your imagination.  The soundtrack of Lust, Caution does exactly that, making it the perfect addition to any music loverís collection.


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