Monday, October 08, 2012

New Soundtrack: The Words

Marcelo Zarvos is one those Hollywood composers who isn't everywhere just yet. In the last few years, he's produced winning scores for The Good Shepherd, The Door in the Floor, and Hollywoodland. Now he's done some terrific work on The Words, composing a score that helps to fill the movie with tension and pathos just when it needs it most. The movie itself is only so-so, and often the score is what keeps it from falling apart altogether. What impresses me most is that this could have been a score that was all about artifice. That is, Zarvos could have fallen on to synthesizers and non-acoustical instrumentation, all with the justification that the movie itself about artifice. But instead, he uses the orchestra to paint a broad schematic that's mysterious, hopeful, romantic, and downright lovely. If I had more time, or if it were more obvious, it'd be interesting to write about his way of nesting themes within themes, for the movie is about that, too, things help inside other things, like Russian dolls. But I didn't pick up any of that. There are times when Zarvos's score is thematic and lush, and moments when it sounds a lot like Philip Glass or the sometimes frenetic side of Alexandre Desplat or the Nico Muhly. That is, lots of the same notes or motifs, urgently repeated. Not my favorite kind of music, I admit, but here Zarvos juxtaposes it with slower, thoughtful material, creating a wonderful contrast. See The Words at your own risk. But by all means, listen to it.

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