Latest reviews of new albums:
La Fille du Puisatier
  • Composed by Alexandre Desplat
  • Varese Sarabande / 2011 / 40:59

Directed by and starring Daniel Auteuil, La Fille du Puisatier (which translates as The Well Digger’s Daughter) is based on the novel by Marcel Pagnol.  Pagnol himself directed the first film adaptation – over seventy years ago!    The story is about a young couple who quickly fall in love before he (a fighter pilot) goes off to fight in the Second World War; after he’s gone, it turns out she’s pregnant and the two families do not exactly see eye-to-eye.  Scoring this tale is France’s most high-profile film composer, Alexandre Desplat, who spends much of his time working on enormous Hollywood blockbusters these days but it’s good to see that he still finds time to score the kind of film on which he made his name.

His music is, not unusually, very beautiful.  The gorgeous scenery of rural France is perfectly evoked – and the lush, free-flowing nature of the strings delicately balanced against the calm sounds of harp and piano.  The main themes are wonderful – whose who know the composer primarily from his American work may be surprised by just how strong a writer of themes he is (something he is probably not allowed to demonstrate so much in Hollywood – after all, who wants a film score to have a theme?)  It’s not all about lush strings and romance, though – there’s a rich emotional palette underpinning the whole thing – “Départ Pour la Guerre” (my Français ain’t the best but I could have a pretty good stab at what that means) has the most wonderful, tragic feeling to it.  The finale, “Le Fille Perdue” (which begins with a deliberately crackly sound, to evoke an old recording) is a real heartbreaker, a bit of a powerhouse.  Desplat’s score is very strong but also very short (about twenty minutes) – the rest of the album is largely made up of different variations of the song “Core ‘ngrato”, beautifully sung by Enrico Caruso (whoever he is – certainly no Justin Bieber), but perhaps four versions is a little too much of a good thing.  ****

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  1. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Sunday 21 August, 2011 at 09:29

    I agree that this score is quite beautiful, but it says all it needs to say in the first three cues. Everything that follows is a very slight variation on (closer to a repetition of) one of those three cues, to the point of utter redundancy. This is something Desplat’s done before, but never as badly as here. A shame, it really drags down the album rating for me to a ***.