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Soundtrack review: The room (Stephen Rennicks – 2015)

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Soundtrack review: The room (Stephen Rennicks – 2015)


“Room” is ROOM tells the extraordinary story of Jack (Jacob Tremblay), a spirited 5 year-old who is looked after by his loving and devoted Ma (Brie Larson). Like any good mother, Ma dedicates herself to keeping Jack happy and safe, nurturing him with warmth and love and doing typical things like playing games and telling stories. Their life, however, is anything but typical—they are trapped—confined to a windowless, 10-by-10-foot space, which Ma has euphemistically named “Room.” The score was written by Stephen Rennicks. He’s very well known in the independent and cult movie scene and this is my chance to meet him musically.

The score creates the illusion of the two character’s inner universe with its opening cues. Both “Opening” and “Wardrobe” are superbly elegant and emotional piano delights which focus on pure love. They are interrupted by a lullaby sung by the mom and I for one am there, in their little world, ready to care for the characters and live their story. I am charmed and mesmerized by these first few cues and their magical sound and I am afraid of what might follow. It’s rare that a score makes such a big impression on me with the first couple of cues and remains in that state of grace. It’s like I keep waiting for a bad cue to show up and nothing happens… the music stays enjoyable, emotional and addictive and I am immersed in the world Stephen Rennicks created.

Starting with “Roll up” a shadow appears and the atmosphere starts to change. This cue is ambiental and sharp and marks the transition to the pivotal cue of the score, the 11 minutes long “The mighty Rio Grande”. I am curious about the title and what it could mean in the context of the movie. I love this cue. This is how you build and weave a long cue; you take your time to set the fire and let it slowly gain momentum and start burning. This cue is something that Brian Eno could write and be proud of, if he ever wanted to imagine the atmosphere of the American countryside. “The mighty Rio Grande” is homage to ambient music and a moment of grace from the composer; clearly one of my favorite cues of this year.

And then the music continues to shine. It’s not the sun shine but he shine of the moon over a deserted night landscape. I am just mesmerized by this score which will end up as one of the best surprises of the year. In the year of minimalism in film music, “Room” will be one of the most memorable because it is the best ambient music album I’ve heard in 2015. It links to the past and to the best artists of the genre. I have no idea If this was Stephen Rennicks’ intention but to me it was like revisiting my favorite eerie instrumental albums or the 70s and 80s. “Room” is the dream’s triumph over the real world and for me there are few more precious moments.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 45 / 45

Album excellence: 100%




04_out Of Wardrobe



07_i’m Scared

08_gone Day

09_roll Up

10_the Mighty Rio Grande

11_nick Dumps Jack


13_in The World

14_stacy Benton

15_after Mittal

16_roll Up

17_after Suicide


19_ma’s Photos

20_try Everything


22_new End


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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  1. Dean 12th February 2016

    Nice review, it really is a great score. I feel I should point out that ‘The Mighty Rio Grande’ is a track by US post-rock band ‘This Will Destroy You’ off their debut self titled album. It’s a phenomenal track that has been used in movies/TV before however it was a perfect fit here. My heart was almost beating out of my chest during that scene of the movie.

    1. Mihnea Manduteanu 12th February 2016

      Didn’t know that, thanks!

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