Soundtrack Review: ARGO (Alexandre Desplat)

ArgoCDMusic composed by Alexandre Desplat
Label: WaterTower Music
Catalog:  WTM39382
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Rating: **½

Frenchman Alexandre Desplat tends to be the most balanced of the great film composers out there and on Argo he went to the opposite direction, but the effect is not the best cut, as some would say. The complete bulk is quite chaotic and it reflects the period of time and country, which is completely acceptable since this is a film about a heist to rescue people from a hostage crisis in Iran in 1979. Nonetheless, the performance leaves a sense that something is missing.

First off, if I were to give this job to anyone, Desplat would not be on the list. Simply because his music tends to be overly dramatic rather than tense; since running out of time is the main problem, someone else should be scoring this film. A temp score that would perfectly fit here is Harry Gregson-WilliamsSpy Games and he is a great pal of Mr. Ben Affleck. Therefore, the question is posed: Why not Gregson-Williams? Answering that is completely irrelevant so let us get on with some factual analysis.

Instead of pursuing the way of a psychological thriller and action movie, Desplat tried to go through an ethnical way and the result is not a “greatest-hits”. Some would definitely say Argo’s music sounds more adventurous than life-threatening-wise and Alexandre Desplat should try playing his own Syriana score, which was a tremendous job, throughout the whole film. All and all, Argo OMPS has its clarity moments on “Scent of Death”, that starts with lots of imagery, evoking memories of the good spy films from the 70’s.

But then he does that again, end up blowing everything apart with excessive drama; “The Mission” seems to be taken from a rejected cues compilation of James Horner’s Titanic. Things improve on “Hotel Messages”, where everything is blended and the result is fantastic, there is voice sampling and genuine Iranian percussion working together plus piano and strings, layering things up in a very distinctive Thomas Newman style.

“Held Up By Guards” follows the same layer recipe and gives hope for a so far quite bland sort of work that shows proper thriller quality on “Drive to The Airport”, “Missing Home” and “Bazaar”with its chaotic and scratching the surface feel. The conclusion is that Argo’s score fail to add the edgy of the seat feel that American movie-goers expect and it is frustrating as that sounds. Apart from the inventive scat-whisper used as leitmotif and some Thomas Newman-ish layer clarity moments, there is not much else to highlight.

Track Listing:

1. Argo
2. A Spy In Tehran
3. Scent Of Death
4. The Mission
5. Hotel Messages
6. Held Up By Guards
7. The Business Card
8. Breaking Through The Gates
9. Tony Grills The Six
10. The Six Are Missing
11. Sweatshop
12. Drive To The Airport
13. Missing Home
14. Istanbul And The Blue Mosque
15. Bazaar
16. Cleared Iranian Airspace
17. Hace Tuto Guagua (performed by Familion)

Total Time: 58:38

Atila Paton

4 thoughts on “Soundtrack Review: ARGO (Alexandre Desplat)

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