Film scores

Soundtrack review: Captain Fantastic (Alex Somers – 2016)

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“Captain Fantastic” tracks the story of a father (Viggo Mortensen) raising six children deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest with a rigorous physical and intellectual education. When a family tragedy occurs however, he is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, beginning a journey that challenges his idea of what it means to be a parent. The score was written by Alex Somers. My hopes are for a minimalistic and poignant score.

The opening makes me very happy because it gives me just that. “A new beginning” sets an almost magical mood for this story. It’s an ambient piece that’s right up my alley. The next step in the score is even more poignant as a solo piano graces “Church” with scattered key strokes that once again reach a special place inside me. This is a special kind of minimalistic music, the Trent Reznor meets Nick Cave type that will always rank among my favorites.

When I hear a score like “Captain Fantastic” I almost don’t want to listen to all of it because of how much I like it. I know it sounds strange but the idea is there are certain compositions I know from the first three or four cues that are going to be a perfect 100 and this certitude makes me want to stop and just save the rest of the delight for later. These are rare scores and I don’t want to waste them. I want to pick up later right where I stopped, whenever I will need to find a certain musical sanctuary.

Alex Somer’s composition is sad, make no mistakes, but this sound is so intimate and familiar to me that I just embrace it and let it embrace me. From the magnificent vibe of “Memories” with the voices and ambient instrumentation to the strangely delightful “Fireflies” or the atmospheric experiment that is “Keepsakes,  this album is a journey throughout my favorite emotions. I mentioned the blend between the Trent Reznor and Nick Cave film score sound (not forgetting their respective partners Atticus Ross and Warren Ellis) but you can add Radiohead to this mix to get the idea of the kind of composition “Captain fantastic” is.

“Captain fantastic” is a slow burning, low key meaningful score that will probably be very polarizing. For me this isn’t just minimalistic ambient music… this is the immersive sound of the soul. If the human soul could be put in notes it would sound like this: dark, lonely and still hopeful. Alex Somers wrote one of the scores of the year so far and I can’t wait for more from him. Approach this with an open mind or you will not be able to fully appreciate it.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 57 / 57

Album excellence: 100%

Highlights:

A New Beginning

Church

Campfire

Funeral Pyre

She Slit Her Wrists

Memories

Fireflies

Home

Fell

Dream

Near Death

Water (I’m Right Here)

School Bus

Forrest

Look Forward To

Keepsakes

Remembering

Unsoundness

Waving Goodbye

Day Of Your Birth

Water (Not Go Home)

Goodbye…

Disappear

Fortress

 

 

 

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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