Film scores

Soundtrack review: The lady in the van (George Fenton – 2015)

“Mary Shepherd’s waltz” instantly puts me in a good mood. There’s something about a well written waltz that just gets to me. It’s melodic and light and charming and since my favorite city in the world is Vienna I can connect very easily. This opening is an indication on how the general mood of the score will be. It take an expert composer to make a feel good and light score sound this good. As the minutes of “The lady in the van” go by I keep smiling and I don’t care that I won’t be left with anything other than the memory of a good mood after this score; the experience of listening to it is enchanting and makes this hour worth spending.

After the waltz we also get a couple of delightful tangos, just as light and feel good as the other cues. Instead of being pathetic or overly dramatic the entire score is actually playful and optimistic. The instruments top toe around each other and it’s refreshing to me to hear such a nice and honest orchestral score in today’s agitated film music world. “The lady in the van” is like a visit to a flea market with all its memory dust and feeling of being stuck in another time. I got the same feeling of joy and melancholy from this score.

There are some cloudier moments as well in the music but they feel natural and understandable. The entire composition feels just right for the story at hand. The composer cleverly made me care with the charming musings from the beginning so when I hear a cue like “Collision and confession” I am actually worried about what happened.

Simple, playful and charming musically, “The lady in the van” is a rare score in today’s sea of compositions. This is what makes it memorable in the absence of themes or standout cues. There aren’t a lot of scores that can me feel this good and fuzzy inside and George Fenton is still a name to look out for.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 9 / 36

Album excellence: 26%

Highlights:

Miss Shepherd’s Waltz

In Care

Special Paint

Freewheeling

The Ascension (Miss Shepherd’s Waltz)

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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