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Soundtrack review: McFarland, USA (Antonio Pinto – 2015)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: McFarland, USA (Antonio Pinto – 2015)


„McFarland, US” looks like the kind of movie I would enjoy. It’s a sports drama and it stars Kevin Costner. You can’t go wrong with sports dramas. The formula is old and it’s been done countless times but that’s because it works, and I love getting these little doses of motivation and inspiration. I love sports and I always watch with pleasure a movie about it. Antonio Pinto wrote the score and he’s also a guy whose compositions I always look forward to. His unique sound where he blends ethnic South American instruments is something special and there’s rarely been a score by him I didn’t enjoy. His other sports score was for “Senna” but that subject was special and dramatic. I’m curious how his usual sound will work here, since he’s music is rarely inspirational. It’s usually deep and riling and…

….I see what you’re doing here, Antonio Pinto… The opening of the score shows me how simple it was for him to change mood. The usual strings are there, his distinctive sound as well except they play a little faster, a little smoother and, yes, a little happier. The opening cue “The real McFarlands” sounds like the coolest opening of a jazz jam session, and I am not a fan of jazz. But this part salsa / part big band and overall awesomely cool piece of music just charms me. Simple, beautiful, effective.

I’ve been to a quite a few concerts featuring the best Latin jazz fusion guitarists like Al Di Meola or Paco De Lucia and I recognize that refreshing sound in “Let’s hit it again”. This is the kind of music that gets under your skin and rejuvenates you, it makes you want to groove and tap your palms on your feet to hold the rhythm. This is why also a cue like “Convoy to state” can have nostalgia value. It’s the sound… “Lord’s prayer” is the first moment when Pinto’s harrowing string play makes its appearance. Add to this a tribal vibe and the cues of “McFarland USA” already sound like different characters coming together to form a cohesive team.

This score is short (27 minutes) and it works in its advantage. The music is light and anything longer than that might have lost me. I don’t hear the inspirational sports story and there’s very little drama in the music but if I separate it from the movie I can only say that melodic, happier Antonio Pinto is just as good as reflective Antonio Pinto. Once again this composer delivers and keeps his almost perfect record of enjoyable scores. I always find something in his music that suits the mood I have then and “McFarland USA” hit the spot. If you are a fan of acoustic strings and rhythms that make you think of a fruit cocktail on a beach, this score is for you.

Cue rating: 87 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 11 / 27

Album excellence: 39%


The Real McFarlands

Let’s Hit It Again

Lord’s Prayer




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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