Lust, Caution (Soundtrack) by Alexander Desplat

 

 

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Lust, Caution by Alexander Desplat

Lust, Caution

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Lust, Caution (Soundtrack) by Alexander Desplat

Lust, Caution
Composed by Alexander Desplat
Decca Records (2007)

Rating: 4/10

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Listen to this soundclip of Lust, CautionDinner Waltz (351 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Lust, CautionWong Chia Chi's Theme (334 kb)


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Lust, Caution (Soundtrack) by Alexander Desplat

"It’s not that the rest of the music is bad. It’s just so nondescript that it passes by without much notice."

Fleeting Pleasure
By Cap Stewart

Because of their antithetical nature, the words “lust” and “caution” aren’t often used in the same sentence. One word denotes an intense desire—if not outright pursuit—of the forbidden; the other signifies prudence and restraint. LUST, CAUTION resembles the former more than the latter. The story is set during the Japanese occupation of China during World War II. A young woman is enlisted by a resistance group to seduce and spy on a high ranking government official, only to fall in love (or lust) with him in the process, jeopardizing the mission to which she was called. The movie is rated NC-17 for strong sexual content.

As of late, director Ang Lee seems to be getting a kick out of being controversial. The subject matter of his previous film, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, stirred a considerable amount of controversy itself. In fact, so did Gustavo Santaolalla’s score for the film—especially after his mediocre effort garnered him an Oscar win, edging out two John Williams compositions (among other nominees). Alexandre Desplat’s efforts for LUST, CAUTION aren’t nearly as controversial (although it is interesting to note that the score fails to employ instrumentation native to the film’s locale).

My first exposure to the music for LUST, CAUTION involved hearing a few tantalizing thirty-second clips. The restrained beauty of the main theme quickly captured my attention and left me wanting more. I haven’t been a huge fan of Alexandre Desplat (although I did like his work on THE QUEEN), but this score sounded like it could change my view of him.

Alas, the album as a whole did not deliver as advertised. As can often be the case, the thirty-second clips did not adequately represent the work in its entirety. In fact, the best moments from the score were featured in the short clips. It’s not that the rest of the music is bad. It’s just so nondescript that it passes by without much notice. I caught my mind drifting on several occasions while listening to the CD.

The aforementioned main theme is, by far, the highlight of the album—although the only reason it stands out is because of the homophonic texture employed in the theme’s closing statement. If the main melodic line were left to itself, there wouldn’t be much to keep the listener’s attention. (A secondary theme, “Dinner Waltz,” is also worth nothing; it crops up in a couple of places and does a decent job of holding one’s attention as well.)

Strangely enough, I oftentimes found myself being reminded of THE RING (which I absolutely love). At times, both the instrumentation and melodic phrasing of LUST, CAUTION seemed to hearken to Zimmer’s cello-dominated horror score. (That may simply be because I used THE RING as a temp track for a recent filming project and still have that music on the brain.) Along similar lines, the strings in LUST, CAUTION periodically delve into a type of dissonance reminiscent of horror film scores.

The last two tracks on the CD are labeled as Bonus Tracks, but it is unclear why they are highlighted as such. Titled “Seduction” and “Desire,” respectively, they are neither seductive nor desirable. They do nothing to help the album end on a high note. All in all, for those who find themselves lusting after this score, I have a (single) word of advice: caution.

Rating: 4/10

 

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Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Lust, Caution 1:07  **
2 Dinner Waltz 1:52  ***
3 Falling Rain 1:13  ***
4 Intermezzo in A Major, Op. 118 No. 2 6:12  ***
5 Streets of Shanghai 3:01  ***
6 Playacting 2:45  ***
7 Tsim Sha Tsui Stroll 1:45  ***
8 Exodus 1:37  ***
9 Moonlight Drive 3:06  **
10 Shanghai 1942 2:29  ***
11 The End of Innocence 2:30  **
12 Sacrifice 4:19  **
13 Remember Everything 2:12  **
14 Check Point 1:05  **
15 The Secret 1:33  **
16 Nanjing Road 3:06  **
17 On the Street 1:36  **
18 The Angel 2:21  ***
19 The South Quarry 2:17  **
20 An Empty Bed 1:57  **
21 Dinner Waltz (Traffic Quintet) 2:00  ***
22 Wong Chia Chi's Theme 3:45  ***
23 Seduction 1:40  **
24 Desire 4:26  **
  Total Running Time (approx) 59 minutes  

 

 
   

 

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