Film scores

Soundtrack review: Modigliani (Guy Farley – 2005)

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“Modigliani” is a 2004 American-French–German–Italian drama biographical film written and directed by Mick Davis and starring Andy García. Set in Paris in 1919, this biopic presents the life of Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, centering, artistically, on his relationship to and rivalry with Pablo Picasso when they both lived in Paris. Modigliani, an Italian Jew from Livorno, has fallen in love with Jeanne, a young and beautiful French Catholic girl. Their lives end in tragedy as he dies and she commits suicide the day after, killing herself along with their unborn child. I remember this movie because it was filmed in Romania. You will hear one of our traditional pieces “Sanie cu Zurgalai” on the album. The score was written from Guy Farley who had one of the most beautiful scores released in 2015, “Maria di Nazareth”.

First thing I notice is that the order of the cues isn’t chronological. We are hit right from the start with the heartbreak of “Jeanne’s death”. Can heartbreak be beautiful? Can it rip me apart on the inside and in the same time delight me with the way the piano also acts like a balm? Can I treat Guy Farley’s music like a sports team and consider that he is on a streak of 5 star cues dating back to two albums ago? I mention once again that under very special hands the piano can evoke the widest and deepest range of feelings out of all the instruments….I notice the subtle support of the strings… I feel again that this composer has an almost unparalleled ability to write emotions, true, honest and intense emotions.

A shadow of sorrow comes over every cue from this score. The music is not heavy and sets atmosphere of longing and remembering. Nostalgia makes the edges of pain smoother and the piano always keeps the music afloat. The main theme is charming and addictive and I get goose bumps every time it recurs throughout the score.

A romantic orchestral composition like this is very rare in the film music of today. Yes it was written 11 years ago but it’s as needed today as it was then. Emotions are not thrust over us in this score instead they drip elegantly. The music flows like a quiet and dark river that gathers thoughts and feelings from every area it passes. I will soon run out of ways to compliment the elegance, beauty and sensitivity in Guy Farley’s music. Rarely has a composer been able to affect me in such a way. He can write emptiness in the most fulfilling of ways.

If you know how Guy Farley writes, this score will be at the top of the list. If you enjoy beautiful and meaningful orchestral music, even if you’re not film music fan, you will keep this close to your heart. With piano and string sections that can melt ice, with ravishing flute passages and with subtle oriental inserts woven in the fabric of the score to show the opium addiction, “Modigliani” will sit proudly in any music collection.

As always, Caldera offers thoughts by the composer at the end of the release and I wish more labels provide this kind of insights.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 33 / 49

Album excellence: 67%

Highlights:

Jeanne’s Death

The Hat

Ancient Law

Opening Titles

Confession

To Renoir

No Eyes

5000 Francs

You’re Gonna be Hung

The Competition

Never Again

Sleep Modi Sleep

My Empty Life

Am I Dying

It’s Wonderful

Rich Beyond Belief

Work in Progress

BONUS TRACKS: Main Theme for Cello and Piano

 

 

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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