The Shape of Water by Alexandre Desplat

The career of composer Alexandre Desplat has been flourishing for years. I first took notice of his music back in 2003 when Girl with a Pearl Earring had been released. Ever since his career has been on a roll. He was catapulted into Hollywood’s A-List rather quickly and he has become one of the industry’s most prominent and sought-after composers.

His style is very pleasant and expressive. His gift for writing beautiful melodies is more than obvious. So far he has been nominated for many awards including several Golden Globes ( he won two Globes so far) and in 2016 he took home the Academy Award for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Award Season is around the corner again and for The Shape of Water, Mr. Desplat has recently one the Golden Globe and his beautiful score has now also, quite logically, been nominated for The Academy Award. On March 4th we will find out who the lucky winner will be.

The Shape of Water is indeed a beautiful and charming score. Once again, Desplat managed to come up with very nice themes that are absolutely enjoyable and downright hummable. “Elisa’s Theme“ is one of the principal themes which is reprised several times throughout the album. Once I had heard this tune, it stuck with me immediately.

As a matter of fact, all themes are really attractive as the opening cue “The Shape of Water” shows right away. This cue has an almost hypnotic quality to it. For the most part, the album offers really expressive and gorgeous music. Only very briefly does the music feel dark and ominous. (“The Creature”)

“Elisa’s Theme“ represents one of the album’s true highlights. Alexandre Desplat wrote a very lyrical and sweet melody for this character. Theme development and application are spot on. Desplat never takes the music too far. It never becomes sappy and he never lays it on too thick. Themes are varied and arranged nicely and the instrumentation was handled very well. (piano, strings, woodwinds, french horns etc.)

As a whole, this album is a winner. Desplat’s score provides quite a few feel-good and heart-warming moments to boot. At times, for instance in the ten-minute piece “The Escape”, the music feels a bit “anti-climactic”. However, the music becomes more vibrant in the second half of this cue.

Will Alexandre Desplat win his second Oscar? This might indeed happen. Yet, at the end of the day, this is only secondary to me. First and foremost, I care about the film and the music. I care about how the score functions inside the film and whether I like the music as it is presented on the album and Alexandre Desplat certainly delivers once again.