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Soundtrack review: Contratiempo (Fernando Velazquez – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Contratiempo (Fernando Velazquez – 2016)

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“Contratiempo” is a 2016 thriller written and directed by Oriol Paulo. Adrián Doria, a wealthy businessman named Man of the Year due to his high-tech company and his trade agreements with the Asian market, meets Virginia Goodman, a veteran lawyer expert in witness preparation and judicial declaration Arrested by the police in a mountain hotel room with the corpse of his lover at his side, photographer Laura Vidal, Adrián talks Virginia about the crime and his relationship with Laura, revealing that both suffered a car crash where a man called Daniel Garrido died, and how Laura manipulated Adrián to avoid the jail by Daniel’s death. Virginia, unconvinced of the Adrián’s testimony, forces him to clear the dark points of his history, in a puzzle where the truth and the lie are easily exchangeable. The music was written by Fernando Velazquez. Now he is on fire and for me he was probably the best composer of 2016 with a few exceptional scores. He also had one of the best cues of 2016 with the 25 minutes long opus “Gernika under bombs”.

For me each school of film music composing has a certain specific sound or quality that makes me recognize the music instantly; in the case of Spanish or South American composers there’s the piano darkness that feels like a cover with a lot of layers that hide all sorts of characters and emotions. It’s not as heavy as the Polish piano darkness for example but it’s special. “Goodman”, the opening theme from “Contratiempo” gives me that feeling and tells me I’m listening to a complex and seductive thriller score. The music is vivid and evokes images in my minds; for example “La pesadilla” makes me think of a “Cape fear” night and the angry ocean under a heavy rain, viewed from high ground but very close to the edge.

Whenever I listen to a Fernando Velazquez score I am so happy by how rich and full the music is that I don’t even feel the need to speak about specific cues; I just dive into the music like a child into the biggest rubber ball pit he could find. I get that feeling of plentitude and of knowing that there’s so much good music in this album that I can consume and consume and I will not run out. I don’t get that sensation of wanting to stop the score at a particular moment so I could take joy in a specific piece because I know every cue will be like that.

I almost don’t need the movie because the score tells me a story in itself. There’s suspense, there’s fear, there are echoes and shadows everywhere and, since this is Velazquez, there are horror moments that raise the hairs on the back of my neck. The mood spirals down from dark to even darker and more dangerous and I just enjoy the endless tango this journey brings, the questions and doubts and that haunting piano that never stops playing. I listen to a cue like “Tres preguntas” and I can just touch the tension.

Once again this composer is not afraid to write long cues as the final three from the album clock in at 25 minutes to mark the climax of the movie. The main piano theme of the movie returns in “Pensamiento lateral” and it’s already memorable for me. There are some clever electronic inserts in the background as well that ad yet another layer of suspense to the music. And as any good story, this musical one has an epilogue to match in the show stopping good “El invitado invisible II”.

“Contratiempo” is the perfect example of how a great composer can fill over 70 minutes of score to the brim with music that communicates. There are no filler moments and I almost didn’t even feel the time pass. Once again Fernando Velazquez shows that he’s one of the best composers of his generation.

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 39 / 72

Album excellence: 54%

Highlights:

Goodman

La pesadilla

Giro a la izquierda

Reencuentro

El último error

Yo sé lo que vi

Tres preguntas

Pensamiento lateral

El invitado invisible II

 

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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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