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The Grand Budapest Hotel by Alexandre Desplat (Review)

posted Mar 22, 2014, 2:11 PM by Koray Savas

Alexandre Desplat knocks another score out of the park this year with Wes Anderson's latest tale. Having previously worked on Moonrise Kingdom and Fantastic Mr. Fox, Desplat has effectively become the sonic voice for Anderson's worlds, replacing former collaborator Mark Mothersbaugh. Here, he builds off the unique instrumentation and minimalistic rhythms he developed with the previous scores to deliver a masterpiece of musical characterization.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is different from other Anderson soundtracks in that there is barely any source music to compete against the score, giving Desplat a full canvas to work with. This allows the music to breathe and flesh out the atmosphere incredibly well. The film is set in a fictitious Eastern European country, but that doesn't stop Desplat from utilizing some fantastic instruments and melodic stylings to firmly ground this world in that setting. His signature rhythms take a new shape and form here with the wide range of sounds delivered from traditional Eastern European instrumentation. He will entrance you with the cymbalom and balalaika one minute, and send you whirling in this comic thriller with Gregorian chants and Swiss yodeling in another. No other score sounds like it, making it truly a marriage to Anderson's story, setting, and characters. While the entire album is an absolute delight, it personally takes off with "J.G. Jopling, Private Inquiry Agent," during which certain events in the film start to take motion. The rest of the score steers and builds towards the brilliant climax with "Canto At Gabelmeister's Peak." Other highlights include "The Cold-Blooded Murder Of Deputy Vilmos Kovacs," "M. Ivan," and "A Troops Barracks."

Alexandre Desplat and Wes Anderson have formed and developed a lasting collaboration that proves to be more than successful. Desplat achieves a musical realm of depth and intricacy that cannot be found anywhere else, lifting Anderson's trademark style to new heights. The score's sound is very specific and catered to the nature of the film's production, so new listeners may be put off by what is surely one of the best scores of the year.