|2.||Driving In Geneva||2:45|
|3.||Fields Of Oil||2:10|
|6.||Something Really Cool||1:38|
|7.||Syriana (Piano Solo)||3:18|
|8.||I'll Walk Around||2:37|
|14.||Take The Target Out||1:23|
|17.||Fathers And Sons||3:38|
|Total Album Time:||45:47|
4 / 5 Stars
Every year I am more and more impressed by the Golden Globes, at least in their Best Original Score category. Now, I know that the Oscars are the supposed to be the highest honor for film scoring, but a few years ago, when Alexandre Desplat was breaking into the American film market with his stunning Girl with a Pearl Earring, he received a Golden Globe nomination. I fully expected the Oscars to take notice, but he was completely overlooked. This year, Desplat has two more film scores for potential Oscar bait. Again, he has been nominated for a Golden Globe, this time for Syriana. Will the Academy Awards take notice? At this point, I think all I can do is keep singing the same song of Desplat\'s talents over and over and hope that someone sits up and listens.
The reason you need to take notice is that Desplat is here to stay. After writing film scores in his native France for over ten years, he has fully arrived on the American scene. And what is most refreshing to me about Desplat\'s work is that it is antithetical to the ways most films are scored these days. Consider Syriana for a moment. Here is a movie about corruption in the oil industry. It follows several storylines to deliver a well-rounded portrait of the industry\'s various facets and includes scenes of action, quiet reflection, and a rousing speech in favor of corruption. In short, it has all the elements that tend to be over-scored in today\'s climate. But Desplat underplays the entire affair. This is a score that never forces you to listen. It never announces its presence with sweeping gestures. Instead it subtly does its job of re-enforcing the story.
This low key approach makes for a sometimes frustrating listening experience, but as a score, as a piece of functional music, it works beautifully. This is intelligent music for an intelligent film.
I was also pleased by Desplat\'s use of Middle Eastern instruments. Any film set anywhere near the Middle East must use the duduk – thus sayeth the current trends. Indeed, the instrument\'s sound has become synonymous with terrorism and is used to create distance between the audience and those perceived as "other." Desplat neatly breaks that horrible barrier by using the duduk as a beautiful solo instrument, in effect humanizing those that could be seen as the enemy. The other ethnic instruments, including the ney and the santur, are handled in a similar manner, emphasizing the global nature of this story and the lack of obvious heroes (or villains, for that matter).
In fact, Desplat\'s greatest achievement with this score is his humanization of the characters. He does not rely on theme to connect the various storylines. Instead, Desplat focuses on creating character through mood. Instead of hearing obvious emotions, we get a sense of the characters\' inner lives. And with so many characters populating the movie, Desplat also provides a key element by holding the movie\'s disparate elements together by texture. Each cue blends in to the ones before and behind it. Strings, augmented by electronics and world instruments feature in every cue. The only standout cue in terms of making you listen is the energetic "Beirut Taxi," which puts a repetitive percussion motive to propulsive use, but even that cue ends quietly, flowing into the Philip Glass-inspired flute motive of "Something Really Cool."
Is this score Desplat\'s best? No, especially if you are looking for a solid independent listening experience. It is intelligently written, expertly crafted, and serves the film perfectly, but lacks the energy and long-range development you normally expect from a score release. This is not the kind of score that you will listen to again and again. But as an example of an important composer working in harmony with a film\'s aim to deliver an important message, you will be hard pressed to find a more effective score this year.