Film scores

Soundtrack review: The affair (Marcelo Zavros – 2014)

affair

“The Affair” is a Showtime TV show which explores the emotional effects of an extramarital relationship between Noah Solloway and Alison Bailey after the two meet in the resort town of Montauk on Long Island. Noah is a New York City schoolteacher and Williams College alum who has had one novel published, and is struggling to write a second book. He is happily married with four children, but resents his dependence on his wealthy father-in-law. Alison is a young waitress trying to piece her life and marriage back together in the wake of the death of her child. The story of the affair is told separately; complete with distinct memory biases, from Noah’s and Alison’s perspectives. Marcelo Zavros wrote the score.

Did I by any chance mention that 2015 is the year of minimalism in film and TV music? Yeah, I think I did. And I think the best proof that this has been an amazing year for fans of ambient music is that Brian Eno’s name has appeared in my reviews quite often even if this year he only contributed to one cue on a Danny Elfman score. The “Opening” of “The affair” sounds like something he would have written. Pure ambient goodness.

Then the hiding starts, of course… the piano expresses doubts and worries and puts this score in a proper place for a story like this. Marcelo Zavros has always been good at writing ambiguous and intriguing music like this. I love his style and I love where a cue like “Cole and Allison” talk takes me. the quiet and meaningful notes come together to create a room out of time where two people who by society’s laws shouldn’t talk together find a sanctuary where they discover something that’s been missing without them even knowing.

“The affair” is a collection of stolen musical moments. The composer is quiet and respectful and uses only a handful of instruments to express emotions like love, tenderness, guilt. The mood is dark but comfortable and regardless of the story, is a feast for lovers of ambient minimalism. Sometimes the music turns even darker and more menacing as real life comes closing in. the difference are subtle and this a very good ambient score.

It’s ironic that in the same week when Thomas Newman releases his most un-Newmanesque score in years (“Bridge of spies”) another composer comes in to fill the void with a score that reminds me a lot of Newman’s regular efforts. Zavros goes deeper though and this is the kind of score that requires a special mood to enjoy. The music is not for a busy and agitate day; it’s for moments of quiet reflection, for moments when you are at peace with yourself regardless of exterior conditions. “The affair” is a warm piano and strings combination that never gets loud or aggressive. It’s the small little musical universe of two people who are hiding out of time.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 23 / 57

Album excellence: 41%

Highlights:

Opening

Cole And Alison Talk

Athena

Lighthouse

He’s Here With Me Every Day

At The Farmer’s Market

Hospital Visit

Noah Watches Alison

Mother’s Intuition

This Was Never Real

The 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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