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Soundtrack review: The Homesman (Marco Beltrami – 2014)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The Homesman (Marco Beltrami – 2014)



“The homesman” is a movie directed by Tommy Lee Jones about three women from the pioneer age who have to cross the harsh American territories of that age.
Marco Beltrami used to be a very exciting composer to follow because of his brilliant horror or actions scores. Lately though his pace seems to have relented, because his three scores from this year weren’t that exciting for me.

The beginning of the score surprises me. It sounds as if Beltrami altered his horror rhythms with banjos or mandolins and turned them into something western. I feel like I am a pioneer migrating in harsh and empty conditions and somehow I love it. It’s dark but I am warming up by a campfire…

The more I listen to it, the more “The homesman” turns into one of the most interesting scores of the year. I haven’t heard Marco Beltrami like this and I am intrigued. I’m halfway through the score and I am having trouble finding my words, because this eerie and atmospheric experiment that he created has left me baffled. Good baffled. So here’s what happened: Nick Cave met Gustavo Santaolalla, jumped on a time machine and found Marco Beltrami’s incarnation from 150 years ago and a lonely banjo player. They encountered a party of drifters who took their instruments, both modern and old, and broke them into a lot of pieces. Very upset with this, our heroes smoked peyote and started having weird hallucinations. During one of those, they reconstructed their instruments the best they could and continued playing, trying to fool the locals and pose as western music players.

Among all this wonderful weirdness and wilderness, there are some true melodic gems. “River crossing” and “Travel montage” are two beautiful violin melodies that bring light and warmth to the score.

When I listen to “Cuddy lost”, I feel lost and almost mad because of the harsh conditions and I am seeing and hearing things that are not there. Except they are there, because Marco Beltrami wrote them. I guess since the three main characters of the movie are insane, the music fits. Still, I’m not only imagining weird things, because when I listen to “Entering down” I’m having a very nice fantasy of a better life.  Wow… what a gorgeous cue!

I will definitely listen to “The homesman” again. I imagine this score will be very polarizing. You’ll either love it or hate it. I think most people will love it and want to hear it again. I am also sure that a second and third listen of this score will reveal completely different sounds and sensations. I think this score is alive and it is also a shape shifter.

Cue rating: 77 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 26 / 46

Album excellence: 56%




River Crossing

Leaving Home Flashback

Are You Crazy?

Travel Montage

It’s Abandoned

Entering Town

Onto The Ferry

The Homesman End Credits

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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