Film scores

Soundtrack review: Our kind of traitor (Marcelo Zavros – 2016)

OUR KIND OF TRAITOR

“Our Kind of Traitor” is a 2016 British spy thriller film directed by Susanna White and written by Hossein Amini, adapted from John le Carré’s novel of the same name. It stars Ewan McGregor, Naomie Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Damian Lewis; a cast that will make me want to go see this movie. A British couple get embroiled with a Russian oligarch and high-profile money launderer while on holiday in Marrakech. The businessman soon leads them into a tortuous journey through Paris, the Swiss Alps and London. The score is written by Marcelo Zavros and I was curious what he will bring to a genre (spy film music) that’s had quite a spectacular last few months.

Hearing Marcel Zavros involved in a score always ort of sets my mind at ease; I don’t know what to expect musically but I do know it won’t be generic. There’s a certain elegance in his music that always surfaces at the right time and gives each composition of his something to remember. I am simply charmed by the way the long opening theme “The ballet” flows and drips with elegance and sensuality.  The Spanish guitar gently adds quiet emotion to this piece and the mysterious second half drops a veil of shadow. The romantic mood continues in the first part of the score as if to let us know that the setting for the story is actually a couple’s vacation. The Moroccan setting is also subtly presented through a few touches of local instruments.

There are different things that usually work in a spy score, depending on the how the movie develops or what the director and composer choose. For “Our kind of traitor” suspense seems to be the focus; the stealth and investigative musical motifs make up the majority of the score while action or funky (is it wrong to always expect smooth jazzy motifs in a spy movie) are scarce. There are cues titled “Chalet attack” or “Family escape” and they sound just as laid back and even romantic as the vacation ones.

I got much more romance and much less action that I expected in this score. the romantic cues end up as my favorite, beautiful parts from “Our kind of traitor”. In between the two extremes there was a constant river of suspense in a score that I imagine works very well in the context of the film. It’s not the most rewarding or exciting standalone listen then but that’s not its main purpose anyway. I will see this movie and enjoy it in context.

Cue rating: 79 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 12 / 63

Album excellence: 19%

Highlights:

The Ballet

Gail’s Theme

Farewell

You’re A Good Man, Professor

 

 

 

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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