on 17 February 2014
I recently saw "Philomena" in the theater and as I was watching I made a mental note to myself to check out the soundtrack, as I really enjoyed the orchestral score in the film. The soundtrack comes from French composer Alexandre Desplat, a true veteran of movie soundtracks, both in Hollywood and in Europe. Just to give you an idea, he has composed the score for Hollywood films like Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, and most recently The Monuments Men, and for such European films like Rust and Bone, The King's Speech, and A Prophet, just to name those.
"Philomena - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" (19 tracks; 51 min.) starts off with a breezy "Philomena", bringing us the leitmotif for the title character, which is followed by "Martin" (the other main character in the movie), with its own musical theme. "Adoption" is a quiet, almost wistful, tune. Piano-led "Reminiscence" is even more understated. "Landing in USA" is dreamy and old-school optimistic. One of the very best tracks is buried deep towards the end, "Anthony's Story" (also coming at a crucial moment in the movie). The soundtrack closes with a sentimental (in a good way) "Farewell" and then a short "Fairground Carousel". The latter frankly is a bit ajar compared to everything else on the soundtrack, but it's a minor quibble 9and lasts only a minute). In fact, many of these tunes are in the 1 to 2 min. range. It doesn't bother me, and in fact I find this score playing very nicely as one cohesive piece of work, a symphony in 19 movements, if you will. As is often the case with these orchestral scores, you can almost make out the plot from just looking at the tunes' titles ("Airport", "Landing in USA", "Discovering Michael", etc.), and to be honest it's a little annoying (in particular for those who haven't seen the movie yet), but I suppose it's unavoidable. If you like orchestral film scores, you will really enjoy this one. Alexandre Desplat has earned 5 previous Oscar nominations for Best Soundtrack, yet has never won. I was not surprised to read that "Philomena" earned him his 6th Oscar nomination. He's got some tough competition (primarily from the "Gravity" soundtrack, in my opinion), but maybe the 6th time is the charm for Desplat. I wish him good luck!
Just a couple of words on the film: the theater screening I saw this at was packed, and the crowd laughed and hollered at all the right times, and ate up this film. While perhaps not the great, serious film that one might have expected, "Philomena" is a moving 'human interest story' (as Martin coined it) nevertheless.
Bottom line" "Philomena", both the film and the soundtrack, is very much worth checking out. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!