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Soundtrack review: Hampstead (Stephen Warbeck – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Hampstead (Stephen Warbeck – 2017)

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“Hampstead” is a 2017 British drama film directed by Joel Hopkins and written by Robert Festinger. The film stars Diane Keaton, Brendan Gleeson, James Norton, Lesley Manville, Jason Watkins and Simon Callow. An American widow finds unexpected love with a man living wild on Hampstead Heath when they take on the developers who want to destroy his home. I would watch just about anything starring Brendan Gleeson so I am adding this one to my list. Stephen Warbeck wrote the score.

Stephen Warbeck is a composer I’ve always admired for his elegant music; he rarely strays away from it and whether it’s a light comedy, an animation movie or a romantic comedy his music brings an extra ray of light to the story. Things are no different here as the opening cue and title theme “Hampstead” pairs the light guitar with a sweet and melodic piano motif to bring me minimalistic joy. This is just the sunniest little theme, carefree like a day in the park; this is the thing I always love the most about Stephen Warbeck’s music and why I chose to review this score out of a bunch. When a cue like “The campaign” comes along, so piano shinny, so optimistic and warm, a cue that includes the main piano theme which I am already humming midway through the score, I am just happy that I love film music and that there are composers who do it so well. Even a melancholic piece like “The photographs” keeps its warmth and tenderness and I just feel the music, there’s no other way to put it, I feel it like a beautiful thing, I feel it like it’s part of me. The composer doesn’t use a lot of instruments; the piano, a mandolin, some strings and yet the soundscape he creates is rich and meaningful.

“Hampstead” is a mesmerisingly beautiful composition that just confirms once more where Steven Warbeck simply shines as a composer; his best scores are sunny islands or refuges taken out of time, a place to forget everything and just feel the warmth of the music bring the most comfortable state. If you are looking for a melodic score where the piano and the soft guitar simply charm and give the feeling that life is beautiful. I want to see this movie and appreciate the score in context as well; the standalone listening experience left me with a big and silly smile on my face.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 21 / 36

Album excellence: 62%

Highlights:
Hampstead
The Cemetery
The Campaign
To The Museum
The Photographs
Fishing For Dinner
Fishing For Dinner

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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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