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The Special Relationship
  • Composed by Alexandre Desplat
  • Varese Sarabande 302 064 208 2 / 2010 / 48:41

The third part of writer Peter Morgan’s “Tony Blair series” starring Michael Sheen, The Special Relationship looks at the former British Prime Minister’s relationship with Bill Clinton, charting Clinton’s support for Blair when the latter was still in opposition through to Blair ruthlessly “dumping” Clinton in his hour of greatest need.  Alexandre Desplat scores again, after The Queen, and while no themes are carried over from the former score, this music is certainly cut from the same cloth.  While a politically astute Machiavellian at heart, there was always something comical about Blair (“Now is not the time for soundbites – I feel the hand of history on my shoulder” is one of the funniest political quotes of all time) and I love Desplat’s approach to the opening cue, giving it a jolly sound, almost an air of farce.

The score is beautifully-drawn throughout, with some very warm Americana for some key sequences.  Not Aaron Copland-style Americana, but there are jazz influences there and three saxophone soloists are credited – the warmth is a fine representation of Blair’s ability to connect with people and the American influence not just for Clinton, but for his obsession with pleasing America.  There are of course some darker moments (“Kosovo” and “Monica L”) but the composer skillfully eases into and out of these moments without them being jarring.  Desplat is sometimes criticised for his music being too clinical and not personal enough, but this score is full of feeling (there’s a real “wow” moment in the climactic “Number One Leader”) – a serious work with a mischievous hue, I think it makes for a particularly entertaining and energising album and it’s certainly recommended.  I hope Morgan follows this up with an installment about the Bush years and that Desplat is on-hand again to score.  ****

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  1. Mastadge (Reply) on Sunday 14 November, 2010 at 23:45

    I’m wary of the word “listenable”, because I know I overuse it, but this is a very listenable score. It’s pleasant and it flows easily from beginning to end, and you’re right — it’s definitely not the “cold” Desplat that people associate with his intricate yet transparent denser music but a nice little buzz of a score. It won’t be my favorite score of the year, but it’s good dramatic writing that actually sounds like music and also sounds like itself and not everything else, which sometimes feels like a major boon!