Film scores

Soundtrack review: After the fall (Marc Streitenfeld – 2014)

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I musically met Marc Streitenfeld when he sort of took over composer duties for Ridley Scott movies from Hans Zimmer. I was surprised to see his name appear but of course I listened to the scores. I loved most of them. “Robin Hood” is one of my biggest soft spots and I find new elements to enjoy in “Prometheus” with every listen. While mostly low key and even minimalistic, his scores often hid an unusual depth that I always loved to uncover.

Also, I always look forward to a new score written by Marc Streitenfeld because I know he’s not bound by any musical constraints. His territory is vast and familiar to me and I know that no matter what area his music might take me in, I will surely find something interesting there. Marc Streitenfeld isn’t afraid to experiment and I would even describe him as a method composer. He gets into the character or movie he writes for and I am completely consumed by them.

“After the fall” is the story of an everyday man who loses his job and has to turn to a life of crime in order to save his family. Sounds to me like a “Breaking bad” type thing. I might watch it because I have been waiting for 15 years for American Beauty’s Wes Bentley to shine again and I think this is his comeback. The composer didn’t watch many scenes from the movie before writing the movie. He did that with just a character and an emotion in mind.

I wonder if I could be a “method listener”… Can I listen to his music and channel the same emotion he had in mind when he wrote it?
The score begins with “Elevate”, a marvelous little melody which makes me think of a nice and quiet life flowing peacefully day after day. I close my eyes and immerse myself deeper into this score. “Searching in the dark” must be the moment the main character first faces the danger of his chosen path. He’s disoriented and he feels the cold of uncertainty.

There’s loneliness in this score… I don’t see the character having anyone by his side in these trials. There’s also good and love… I hear it in the chimes of “Innocence” and “Goodnight”. I almost feel the tears stopping in my throat. I understand why he’s doing this. I feel his determination and conviction. “Goodnight” could be the moment of decision.

Darkness comes in the next cues… In ”Connected” and “You never know” the melodic innocence of the bells is replaced by ominous percussion and a sense of unease. The music follows the downward spiral of the character’s life. I am at “Robberies” and I wish I was back at the beginning of the score. I miss that safety.

“Wrath” sounds exactly how I would imagine this feeling expressed by Wes Bentley. Quiet but burning inside… the clenching of the jaw and the fists… the strange glow in the eyes… the pulse getting faster and faster… but just a slight change in the facial expression. Marc Streitenfeld’s music is extraordinary minimalistic and layered in the same time. He doesn’t need loud or epic cues to convey emotions. He just needs a few precise instruments and a deep knowledge of those emotions. And when he needs to make an ever stronger point the cello is there to seal the deal.

“After the fall” is only 31 minutes long but thick as they come. Minimalistic, melodic and beautiful, it finds familiar paths to travel inside me. It leaves an echo to which I will reply ever so often. This is the kind of score I will remember and keep close for times of need.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 25 / 32

Album excellence: 77

Highlights:

Elevate

Searching In The Dark

Innocence

Goodnight

Wrath

Whole Again

Virtue

Home Sweet Home

Just To See You

About the author

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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