Film scores

Soundtrack review: Sufragette (Alexandre Desplat – 2015)

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“Sufragette” is a powerful drama about the women who were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality in early-20th-century Britain. The stirring story centers on Maud (played by Carey Mulligan), a working wife and mother whose life is forever changed when she is secretly recruited to join the U.K.’s growing Suffragette movement. Galvanized by the outlaw fugitive Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep), Maud becomes an activist for the cause alongside women from all walks of life. The story is inspired by true events and the score is written by … Alexandre Desplat. Almost went a full year without a release from him. A Desplat score is one of the more challenging moments from me because he is one of the composers I just can’t connect with. Maybe this time…

…because this time it’s sort of a period movie and he can’t write it in the same style he usually writes in, right? The main theme gives me hope because it’s quiet and serious with a shadow of a heartbeat in the background. This sounds very un Desplat and I like it. He comes back though right away in “An army”. This sounds very much like him: that light and ironic melodic undertone which works very well in the movie but lacks as a standalone listen.

The music is nice and easy. Desplat knows how to write a melody, he knows how to combine notes and come up with something very easy to like and enjoy. “Hope” for example is a very nice cue; nice is not enough though. I am having the same sensation I usually have when I listen to a Thomas Newman generic score: the music is enjoyable but mostly forgettable. It grows on me but only to a certain level and, once again, I’m sure it works very well in context. I listen to “Demonstration” and I hear his previous scores. I listen to “Abuse” and I finally feel something. It’s interesting because this cue shows me just how close Desplat’s style is to something I could relate to. There’s a thin wall separating the two but he rarely peaks in my side.

The story helps the score because it’s sad and serious. This limits the composer’s movements in away and I get one of the Alexandre Desplat scores I had the best time listening to. It’s still not something I would return to, but the sadness got to me. A cue like “Prison” will always leave a mark. His fans will appreciate this one because it has all the elements that make his scores a success. I actually enjoyed it more than I expected. There was nothing superficial about it and it spoke to me in quite a few instances.

Cue rating: 85 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 9 / 49

Album excellence: 19%

Highlights:

Abuse

Prison

Bombings

Legacy

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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