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LARGO WINCH – Alexandre Desplat

December 19, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Largo Winch is a French action/thriller directed by Jérôme Salle, based on the popular Belgian comic book character created by Philippe Francq and Jean Van Hamme. It stars Tomer Sisley as the eponymous character, the estranged son of Nerio Winch, the incredibly wealthy international corporation, who is plucked from an Amazonian prison where he had been falsely accused of drug trafficking after Nerio is murdered. With the vast resources of his father’s company now at his disposal, Largo suddenly finds himself facing danger at every turn, as he tries to unravel the mysteries of his father’s death and his own imprisonment, and unmask those who want to take it the company, by any means possible.

The film, which also stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Karel Roden, Gilbert Melki and Benedict Wong, is apparently the most expensive French film ever made; no wonder that the most talented French composer of his generation, Alexandre Desplat, is on hand to write the score. Contrary to popular belief, Desplat is actually very good at action music – one only has to listen to his American blockbusters Hostage and Firewall, or his earlier French scores like Nid de Guêpes, to hear great examples of his action style. Largo Winch, in its broadest terms, can be summed up as what a Desplat Bond score would sound like if it was combined with some of the textural writing of The Golden Compass; it’s a modern combination of a large orchestra and pulsating electronics, albeit filtered through Desplat’s unmistakable classical sensibility.

The eponymous opening cue has an expansive, epic quality to it, and is again characterized by the familiar fluttering woodwinds that have underpinned many of his works, and is recapitulated beautifully in the “Epilogue”. Largo’s love interest, Léa, has a gorgeous romantic theme for strings and harp in “Léa’s Theme”, while his father Nerio has a slightly more sinister, nervous 8-note motif which flits around the orchestra in “Nerio’s Theme”, augmented by cool bassoon chords and occasional horn blasts. The flutes appear again, this time in combination with piano, harp and mandolin, in the wonderful “Chosen One”, another one of those incredibly intricate scherzos which Desplat likes to create, and which ends with a series of deliciously dark crescendos.

The rest of the action music is fun and lively, energetic and exciting, with cues such as “Chase Latino” swaying to vibrant, exotic rhythms, while others such as “Mato Grosso Escape”, “Largo Jumps”, “Hong Kong Chase”, “On the Run”, “Roof Fight”, and the early part of the otherwise wonderfully melodramatic “Anna’s Death” are full of kinetic power, cool synth beats and elaborate orchestrations which never fail to thrill.

I’m sure regular readers of this site are getting incredibly fed-up with reading glowing reviews of Alexandre Desplat’s work, but the truth of the matter is that no composer’s work has excited me this much since I first started listening to James Horner in the early 1990s; the beauty of his themes, the sophistication of his orchestrations, the clarity of his performances, and – in an action setting – the energy and inventiveness of his writing never fails to capture me, and Largo Winch is no exception. Absolutely recommended.

Rating: ****

Track Listing:

  • Largo Winch (3:05)
  • Léa’s Theme (1:47)
  • Dimna Yudda (performed by Chet Nuneta) (2:01)
  • Chosen One (5:48)
  • Nerio’s Theme (2:37)
  • Chase Latino (1:27)
  • Two Brothers (1:40)
  • The W Building (2:47)
  • Mato Grosso Escape (1:55)
  • Meyer’s Car (1:41)
  • Croatian Sorrow (4:13)
  • The Orphanage (2:26)
  • Hidden Souvenirs (2:51)
  • Dugi Otuk (1:26)
  • Vision in the Waves (1:07)
  • Largo Jumps (1:34)
  • Anna’s Death (3:47)
  • Melina (3:12)
  • The Deal (2:15)
  • Korsky (3:11)
  • Freddy’s Betrayal (1:43)
  • Ferguson (1:30)
  • Hong Kong Chase (1:24)
  • On the Run (3:18)
  • Roof Fight (2:27)
  • Epilogue (2:00)

Running Time: 64 minutes 39 seconds

Colosseum CVS-6943 (2008)

  1. Beyond El Mar
    December 2, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    I was looking at all of Desplats’ works, and I thought this one might be a hidden gem, especially here in the US.

    Thanks for the review. I plan to buy this and its’ sequel.

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