Home > Reviews > AFTERWARDS (ET APRÈS) – Alexandre Desplat

AFTERWARDS (ET APRÈS) – Alexandre Desplat

January 16, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Afterwards is a metaphysical romantic drama directed by Gilles Bourdos and starring Romain Duris as Nathan, a brilliant New York lawyer whose personal life has become a mess since his divorce from Claire (Evangeline Lilly), his only love. However, when everything changes when Nathan meets Kay (John Malkovich), a mysterious doctor who introduces himself as a “Messenger” and tells Nathan that he is able to sense when certain people are about to die.

This mysterious, moody film has a score by Alexandre Desplat, returning to work with director Bourdos for the first time since the pair collaborated on the score for Inquiétudes in 2003. As with all of Desplat’s work, the music for Afterwards is classically beautiful and effortlessly elegant, anchored by a gorgeous theme for piano, strings and harp first heard in the opening cue, “The Wonder of Life”, and the finale, “Lost”. Unlike many Desplat scores, however, Afterwards is tinged with an almost subliminal sense of quiet melancholy; the music is lovely, but it’s certainly not intended to make you feel especially happy.

Cues like “River Flows”, the exquisite “Dandelions”, and the beautiful “White Sands” have a hypnotic, calming effect; subdued, but not sullen, making use of almost minimalistic repeated chords and tones, and soft performances by guitars, harps, solo cello, solo piano, and muted string sustains. Once or twice the music picks up pace and offers a little bit of urgency and boldness. The Birth-like synth pulses in “N.D.E.” and “The Messenger”, and the increased brass element and percussive beats of cues such as “Vision”, “Last Exit to Albuquerque”, “Kind of Red” and “Tell Me When” are welcome variations, adding life to what could otherwise have become a slightly stale score.

There is also a distinct jazziness to certain cues, especially in the way muted trumpets and subtle brushed snares are incorporated into cues such as the impressionistic “Crossroad”. Desplat’s use of brass in these cues is, at times, almost Don Davis-like, with chromatic layering effects and stark piano chords giving the music a stressful, somewhat threatening aura. For the most part, Afterwards is a score not given to bold thematic statements or overt sentiment, although towards the end of the album it does become much more dark and propulsive. Nevertheless, it does leave a positive impression with its dream-like textures and delicate orchestrations, and is well worth seeking out for those who think that Desplat is only capable of writing pretty little waltzes. Not a crowd pleaser, but one which can easily be appreciated for its intelligent construct and its adherence to the dramatic turns of the narrative.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • The Wonder of Life (2:55)
  • Crossroad (4:56)
  • River Flows (2:58)
  • N.D.E. (4:23)
  • Vision (2:03)
  • Dandelions (2:14)
  • Alexander C. (1:23)
  • New Mexico (3:17)
  • Last Exit to Albuquerque (2:13)
  • White Sands (1:17)
  • Kind of Red (5:14)
  • The Messenger (4:48)
  • Tell Me When (2:07)
  • Here & Now (1:18)
  • The Night Blooming Cereus (2:58)
  • Angel Reflections (3:10)
  • The Swan’s Song (2:20)
  • Lost (2:53)

Running Time: 52 minutes 54 seconds

Naïve France K1653 (2009)

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