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Soundtrack review: 3 generations (West Dylan Thordson – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: 3 generations (West Dylan Thordson – 2017)



“3 GENERATIONS” tells the stirring and touching story of three generations of a family living under one roof in New York as they deal with the life-changing transformation by one that ultimately affects them all. Ray (Elle Fanning) is a teenager who has struggled with the body assigned to him at birth and is determined to start transitioning. His single mother, Maggie (Naomi Watts), must track down Ray’s biological father (Tate Donovan) to get his legal consent to allow Ray’s transition. Dolly (Susan Sarandon), Ray’s lesbian grandmother is having a hard time accepting that she now has a grandson. They must each confront their own identities and learn to embrace change and their strength as a family in order to ultimately find acceptance and understanding. West Dylan Thordson wrote the score.

My only other experience with this composer has been “Split” which I really enjoyed; of course it’s an entirely different story and mood here. I have a soft spot for quiet, reflective guitar based scores because they are one of the simplest and most efficient ways to write intimate music, to express personal struggles rather than a while world of problems. “Ray undresses” is a clear example of why I love this type of music every now and then; it’s just one minute long but has just the right dose of emotion to make me care and not feel exaggerated. The thing with a score like this is that no matter the story the melodic little musical nuggets express some kind of hope and conviction that everything is going to be alright. “Maggie & Ray” is such a nice theme, so innocent and meaningful, and the piano takes centre stage here and the music delights me. The composer knows that the story itself is tough and complicated enough and makes his music minimalistic and enjoyable, reflective and rewarding. I listen to “Pink bridge” where the piano goes poignant and sparse and dreamy and it’s another piece in the little universe the composer is building with just a few instruments, from dark mediative to the playful whistling of “Shoe rescue” and the xylophone like sounds of “Drive to Pleasantville”.

There is nothing in “3 generations” that you haven’t heard before but this doesn’t take anything away from the enjoyment and emotional impact of this score; West Dylan Thordson uses a soft brush to express the feelings he needs to without burdening the listener and without ever losing the tone of hope from his music. The quiet melancholy of the final cue “Family theme” with the piano buildup and the haunting dreamy main motif is worth alone the time to listen to this score. Unlike the main characters of the movie, the music “3 generations” has a clear identity and lets me discover another side of West Dylan Thordson.

Cue rating: 97 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 19 / 21

Album excellence: 88%


Ray Undresses
Maggie & Ray
Pink Bridge
Shoe Rescue
Drive to Pleasantville
Ray Shaves Head
No Father
Family Theme

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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