Film scores

Soundtrack review: Strangely in love (Austin Wintory – 2016)

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I am sure Austin Wintory’s composition will bring a smile on your faces and will make your hearts feel a bit warmer. Do not miss this gem.

“Strangely in love” is a hopeless romantic comedy take on Dostoevsky’s White Nights set in modern-day Los Angeles. Fyo, a naive ignored man-boy, falls in love with the only person who recognizes his existence, Nastenka, a hot-headed blind girl who’s ready to hang herself from a tree while waiting for her lover, Steve, to return from Africa, where he’s gone off to save the children. Fyo will do anything to be with Nastenka, even if it means helping her win back her dream lover. The score was written by Austin Wintory and I was both intrigued and curios to hear It considering that I mostly know him from game scores.

First of all I like the division of the cues by chapter, as if the album was a book. I know it doesn’t matter when it comes to music, but it gives me a good feeling. As does the first chapter “The underground man” with the Americana sound coming from the harmonica. I get the feeling of a lazy Sunday afternoon spend on a porch somewhere, waiting for the sunset. The mood changes for the next chapter “Nastenka” which is already a favorite with its suave changes in mood and lovable feeling. I adore a cue like this one because it makes me think of sweetness and innocence, of joy and playfulness, of a carefree day.

Even a cue like “The stalker” has a wonderful melodic sound to it; the composer wants to make sure that even a listener who hasn’t seen the movie gets understands the tone of the story without getting worried about such a title. I like getting immersed in a score that sounds like this as if it was the warm sea I had been waiting to bathe in for a long time. Austin Wintory uses the flute, the harmonica and I even hear the sound of a harp; all warm and gentle instruments that create the most wonderful musical atmosphere. I feel as if I’m listening to a fairy tale that strangely takes place in the middle of the American countryside.

I smile at the clumsiness of “First date”. The music is cleverly constructed and I imagine a stumbling and awkward first date that somehow still goes well. This theme is laid back and there’s a bit of “Pink Panther” jazziness to it. When the music gets a bit more serious it’s just as delightful: “A history of Steve” is varied and entertaining like a story you never get tired of.

“Strangely in love” is full of moments like these. The musical love story is believable and charming. I love the joy this composition brings me. In today’s film music world a score like this is rare and precious. I am sure Austin Wintory’s composition will bring a smile on your faces and will make your hearts feel a bit warmer. Do not miss this gem.

Cue rating: 91 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 27 / 48

Album excellence: 56%

Highlights:

Chapter 1: The Underground Man

Chapter 2: Nastenka

The Stalker

Love Me

Chapter 4: Sister Sarah

The Labyrinth

Not Just Any Brother

Chapter 7: New Beginnings

I’m on My Journey

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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