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Soundtrack review: The Age of Adaline (Rob Simonsen – 2015)

“The Age of Adaline” is about a girl who miraculously remains 29 years old for almost 80 years. Naturally she lives a solitary existence for fear that anyone she would get close to might reveal her secret. At one moment thought she meets a guy who reignites her passion. Sounds like an intriguing story. Blake Lively of “Gossip girl” fame plays the title character while two amazing actors like Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker also appear. Rob Simonsen wrote the score and this is a name I look out for ever since he wrote of the best scores of 2014 “Wish I was here”.

The score opens with a magical little theme for the title character “Adaline Bowman”. Am I listening to James Newton Howard here? There’s no other composer who can channel this much sensitivity and the sensation of butterfly wings slowly creating ripples of emotion that take me over from the inside. At least that’s what I thought until now. Rob Simonsen begins the score with two minutes who speak more to me than hours of other music. This is the level of emotion and magic found in scores like “Snow White” or “Maleficent” and I am enchanted, addicted, immersed already in this minimalistic panting that this composer is laying out before me. Each note sparkles joyfully and joins the one before it like innocent and happy kids playing with each other.

The first more dramatic moments come in “January 1st 1908”, probably the first time she dies. These moments don’t do anything to dent the magical feeling I get from the score. They are part of the same world and they serve the same purpose, to show me why I love film music so much and to convince me to eagerly count the hours until Rob Simonsen’s next composition. The chimes, the bells, the soft and meaningful instrumentation, everything is in its right place and I can’t even see them as different cues because they are glue together perfectly by the composer’s craft.

“First resurrection” is even more intense and even more surreal. This and “Never speak a word of her fate” go hand in hand and give me goose bumps, chills, visions. The soft witchy choirs, the sweet piano and the subtle darkness that surrounds them make my heart beat faster and I get that feeling of never wanting this score to end. I look quickly and see that it’s only one hour long. I remember than how much Rob Simonsen told me in an even shorter score, “Wish I was here” so I lay my doubts to rest.

“Ellie brings flowers” is the purest and more beautiful dance of notes I have heard this year. The innocence in this cue almost gets me teary eyed because perfect little moments like these have a special weight inside me. “Sunken ship” feels even more magical than the rest of the score so far. I can almost see the fairy dust and I get that feeling of being able to do anything in the world created by “The age of Adaline”. Nothing is real, everything is a sweet fantasy from which I don’t want to wake up. I can’t wait to see the movie and compare these sensations with the ones I will get then, because there is drama and death in this story and it’s not supposed to feel this good. I get the feeling of space, stars, dremas… How intense is “Another death in the life”? It doesn’t speak loud but I can see the lower lip of this cue trembling slowly as if it was ready to cry. This cue can’t be louder because it would burst into tears. It keeps all that emotions bottled inside 140 seconds of incredibly beautiful music.

As the score progresses I get that rare and delightful feeling of having found a perfect score, one of those rare albums which deserve 5 stars all around and which don’t have a single moment which I didn’t adore. This is my kind of score. If I were to choose my favorite kind of film score, it would be this one. This is why I loved James Newton Howard’s music so much because he made this style his. Now Rob Simonsen comes and delivers a score which cannot possibly miss from the list of my favorites at year’s end, and not only. This is the kind of score I will keep close and listen to when I need moments with myself, when I need to just hear pure, beautiful and minimalistic music that will enhance everything I feel and expand my imagination. A cue like “Constellations” alone is worth the price of this score.

I am almost afraid to go see the movie because I don’t want the feelings the score left me with to be affected in any way. This sensation is so rare, so precious it’s like having to run while carrying a huge jug of water filled to the brim from which I don’t want to spill even one drop. Rob Simonsen used a magic wand while writing this score and he must have been touched by something out of this world because you don’t just write a magnificently beautiful cue like “William recognizes Adaline”.

There’s such a wealth of emotions in “The age of Adaline”… The sorrow and love in “He named the comet Della”… the quiet and deep regret of “A near miss” which sounds like a moment in your life you keep going back to and wish it could have gone differently, a moment when your life could have went down a road you see now as perfect… A cue so quiet and yet so poignant, a cue that whispers things that give me shivers… the magical storm in “The scar”, a cue which could work on a Harry Potter score, a drama score, a heaven and hell score or on the score for the most beautiful love story ever told… it’s this versatile and rich.

“The age of Adaline” is a score to listen to with you loved one, with your kids, when you are thinking about a lost love or when you need to quiet your thoughts down and replace what’s inside your mind with this warm, emotional and vibrant blend of orchestral goodness that Rob Simonsen put together for us. After the stunning “Wish I was here”, with this score he firmly establishes himself as one of my favorite composers. So if Brian Tyler is the new Jerry Goldsmith and Michael Giacchino is the heir of John Williams, can I dream about Rob Simonsen someday taking over the emotional scepter form James Newton Howard? 10 years from now we will be regarding this composition as a classic. Do yourselves a favor and rush to get it. And if the movie is half as good as the score, it will be amazing.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 55 / 55

Album excellence: 100%

Highlights:

Adaline Bowman

At Home

January 1st, 1908

First Resurrection

No Scientific Explanation

Never Speak A Word Of Her Fate

Ellis Brings Flowers

Sunken Ship

Another Death In The Life

Tired Of Running

Adaline Apologizes

Constellations

William Recognizes Adaline

He Named The Comet Della

A Near Miss

The Scar

Twisted Around The Truth

No More Running

Second Resurrection

Coming Back To Life

Hospital Confessions

To A Future With An End

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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