Type to search

Soundtrack review: The Sisters brothers (Alexandre Desplat – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The Sisters brothers (Alexandre Desplat – 2018)



“The Sisters Brothers” (Les Freres Sisters) is a 2018 western dark comedy directed by Jacques Audiard from a screenplay he co-wrote with Thomas Bidegain, based on the novel of the same name by Patrick deWitt. The film stars John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix as the two notorious assassin brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters, and together they get caught up in the California Gold Rush. It is Audiard’s first English-language film. The story follows Eli and Charlie Sisters, two hitmen brothers on the trail of a chemist with a unique secret formula for prospecting gold wanted by their boss. Alexandre Desplat wrote the score.

It’s Desplat so the mandatory neurotic, jumpy piano sound appears right from the first cue, the title cue; quite often as I am writing about an Alexandre Desplat score I find myself using the same expressions to describe his music and making sort of the same remarks but I guess that’s quite alright since he does the same with his music and a lot of his scores sound similar. This year though – and I noticed this in his previous score “Operation finale” as well – he decided to introduce some extra quirks in his music, maybe reminiscent of his work for “Suburbicon”; as I can hear clearly in “Duplicity” he goes for the Carter Burwell / Coen Brother movies sound with dark comedic suspense and instruments played differently or out of synch even. The new instruments or the different ways of playing the instruments include percussion and wooden sounds which are combined in a way that evokes frantic actions by the characters.

I must admit that for me this change is good, any change in the Desplat sound, some freshness, is good. I am listening very curious and fascinated to a cue like “Two brothers, two friends” which is oddly satisfying on its own as well as it represents a strange take on the Western / Americana genre. I think this is the biggest takeout from “The Sisters brothers”, this quirky take on this genre. Desplat fans will surely frown at this score as after a familiar start it strays away from his usual mannerisms; it’s a strange score, jumpy, ironic, fragmented and it includes plucked strings and wooden sticks and has a certain fascinating simplicity about it.

Cue rating: 66 / 100

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).

  • 1

You Might also Like


  1. Fran Bambust 21st September 2018

    Hi Mihnea, I love your score reviews. I most often feel myself at odds with your insights, but I don’t mind because you always explain why you feel in a certain way, which helps me appreciate a soundtrack in a new way. So I keep coming back here, even though we like different kinds of composers and scores. Thank you for every review!!

    1. Mihnea Manduteanu 21st September 2018

      Thanks for reading 🙂 It’s great that we can enjoy disagreeing. Appreciate the input 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.