Film scores

Soundtrack review: Luv (Nuno Malo – 2015)

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If I had received this score for review two weeks ago it wouldn’t have been something to get excited about beforehand. But in the meantime I had a chance to hear “Backlight”, an older score by Nuno Malo and I was blown away. It is one of the nicest surprises of this year, an intense and emotional score which I recommend to anyone. So I am very happy to get another score from this exciting composer, “Luv”. This is a gritty coming of age story about an 11 year old boy who spends a day with his uncle. The composer mentioned that the score builds up to a climax for the last 15 minutes of the movie.

I instantly recognize the sound I found so rewarding in “Backlight” when this score starts. “Woody’s coming of age” serves as the main theme and is a poignant composition in the vein of scores like “Crash” or “Babel”; it has the same feeling of loss and depth that makes me stop what I am doing and pay attention to the music. This is that dark atmospheric sound that grabs me by the hand and throws me over an imaginary edge. After the fall the sound becomes a little more hopeful; “A family that prays together” gleams like the sun over the slightly agitated sea. I feel adrift and at peace when I listen to this cue. There’s something very soothing about those ethnic strings in the background.

If those first two cues weren’t your cup of tea you can try the more modern sound of “Stop crying! Into the darkness”. This cue doesn’t weigh that heavily and has a pulse that can become very appealing. Me I prefer the ambient and reflective sound that drives most of the score. There’s a blend of hope and sadness in a cue like “The girl that got away” which concludes with a question mark. Nuno Malo ends this cue in a very intelligent way as if to suggest that something was left unfinished.

Even when it’s emotional, the music of “Luv” keeps a harsh and cold foundation. The characters of this musical story or rather its setting aren’t the most welcoming and forgiving and the impact can be quite abrupt. I am fascinated by a cue like “Never show weakness”. It reaches a familiar place inside me and I get wonderfully lost in that atmospheric sound. It echoes back to the times when I would listen to Brian Eno or Mike Oldfield and I get a string of nostalgia. I float among my dreams and memories as if they were eerie glowing jellyfish.

These were just some moments from “Luv”. Make no mistake, this is a sad score but so rich and appealing with its minimalistic sound that you will not mind. Nuno Malo proves once again that he can create interesting and fulfilling musical journeys if your heart is opened to it. Mine was and this composer is quickly becoming one of my favorites to watch for. Two weeks ago I didn’t even know him, but now I mark him as one of the few current composers who can deliver this quiet melancholic and atmospheric sound so dear to me. And the promised intense and dramatic finale? The section of the score from “The death of Vincent / Find her” on is a whirlwind of drama and emotion. Great score!

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 38 / 50

Album excellence: 77%

Highlights:

Woody’s Coming Of Age

A Family That Prays Together

The Girl That Got Away

Never Show Weakness

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Dreams Of My Mother

Flowers For Beverly

The Death Of Vincent / Find Her

Down By The Water

You Can’t Protect Them From Bad People

Visions Of A Better Life

End Credits / Main Theme Reprise

 

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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