“N.O.I.R.” is a 2015 Canadian movie about the stories of four different characters struggling with various life problems. Patrick Lavoie wrote the score and this is the first time I’ve had contact with his music. Dramas involving separate stories coming together usually have very good scores. Off the top if my head I’m thinking “Crash”, “Babel”, “21 grams”.
The score opens with a claustrophobic tango which dances with an ethnic African percussion theme to make for an interesting welcome. The sound is shrewd and it changes shape; it’s the sign of a score which will bring surprises. I am right because the next cue is the kind that stalks in front of the door, just watching and listening without even a knock. You know it’s out there but you can’t see it. This effect is enhanced by the way the piano is played.
The dramatic moments of “Noir” are dense and as dark as this score’s title. They are rare so they don’t drag the score down in that abyss. The main sound of Patrick Lavoie’s composition stays on the rhythm of a tango, a dialogue between different instruments and moods. When the music deviates from that we get another very nice surprise, the theme for Fleur, the 17 year old Haitian who struggles in an abusive relationship with her daughter’s father. The theme is both innocent and sad and plays with a couple of simple guitar chords doubled by the echo of a woodwind instrument.
“Noir” is not a score I will remember tomorrow but it was quite enjoyable in the moment. I loved the moments of revolt (like “Lucky #7) and that constant tango rhythm which can become quite addictive. I enjoyed the string experiments from “The B Train”. I loved enough moments from it, but overall the music stayed in that comfort zone and didn’t try to explore deeper feelings. I wished I could have heard more of “Craquee”.
I imagine this score words very well in the context of the movie though. I suppose the pace of the film is one that needed the music to tag along without getting in the way. If that is the case, the dark tango of Patrick Lavoie hit its mark. As a standalone listen tough it didn’t have enough to make me want to come back.
Cue rating: 84 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 5 / 20
Album excellence: 23%