Score Reviews‎ > ‎

The Danish Girl by Alexandre Desplat (Review)

posted Dec 8, 2015, 9:35 PM by Koray Savas

Academy Award winner Tom Hopper reunited with his The King's Speech composer for this period drama about artists Einer and Gerda Wegener. The film chronicles Einer's realization and transformation from man to woman, and how it disrupts their marriage and love. Alexandre Desplat delivers a stunning score that is simultaneously grand and intimate, utilizing a plethora of moods and colors to paint one of the best scores of the year.

Desplat's music first clicked with me when I saw The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button in 2008. The way the music was tethered to the narrative through the characters was a breathtaking experience that I had never heard from him before. That revelation is not unlike listening to The Danish Girl for the first time. The music is so inherently Desplat's, with the minimalist rhythms gliding along underneath as gentle melodic strings flow in the foreground. Yet the great sense of passion and heart that his instrumentation evokes seems to never tire or falter. He continuously amazes as he churns out one film score after the other while still retaining this level of craftsmanship. The score's delicate performance and recording shapes the musical journey into a hypnotic lullaby that gradually builds in strength and fervor. Desplat structures the score in such a way that the listener is never left with a moment to stray away from the story being told. By introducing his theme in "The Danish Girl," we immediately have an anchor to follow through with the rest of the music. From here, Desplat weaves and guides the theme through the aforementioned delicacy, while slowly building up to "Aggression," the turning point in the album. The music shifts gears, as the title suggests, along with "Radiation" and "Gerda In The Rain." The send off of the theme in "Lily's Death" brings us back with a poignant rendition slightly removed from its introduction at the start.

Although many will most likely brush The Danish Girl aside as another competent Desplat score in a long line of projects, the music deserves a much more special place amongst his entire body of work. The score encompasses all of his dramatic sensibilities and provides a tight and engaging listening experience. Regardless of how it may be perceived, it is almost guaranteed to earn Desplat his 9th Oscar nomination at next year's ceremony.