Type to search

Soundtrack review: M.F.A (Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: M.F.A (Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli – 2017)



“M.F.A”. is a 2017 American thriller film directed by Natalia Leite and written by Leah McKendrick. The film stars Francesca Eastwood, Clifton Collins Jr., Leah McKendrick, Peter Vack, David Huynh, Marlon Young, David Sullivan, Michael Welch and Mike Manning. An art student taps into a rich source of creative inspiration after the accidental slaughter of her rapist. An unlikely vigilante emerges, set out to avenge college girls whose attackers walked free- all the while fuelling a vivid thesis exhibition. Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli wrote the score.

This year I’ve already heart “The mist” from Giona Ostinelly and Sonya Belousova and I was very impressed; it’s time for a different kind of violent story. The score opens with “Painting it black”, an alert electronic piece with a clever cello undertone that ads a mysterious depth to the music. It’s clear right from the start that “M.F.A” will be more experimental and disturbing than the melodic “The mist”. A cue like “Empty canvas” might be polarising for the listeners but for me it’s simply fascinating as it mimics the tribulation of creation and the discomfort of writer’s block. I am all in for musical experiments and I like the insanity and whispers of “I’m not crazy”; is that voice by any chance saying “therapist”? I don’t know but it gives me chills. I am already in paranoia and suspense mode and when “Escaping Kennedy” comes with its loud and pyrotechnical pace and the whispers and whirring I am physically feeling the music. “Getting high” reminds me a bit of “Requiem for a dream” and it’s another weird cue that makes total sense in the context of this score. The music is visceral and I am enjoying the ride. The cues are short but intense and agitated so the atmosphere of the score is neurotic. A dreamy ambient moment like “Humming” contrasts drastically with what Iv’ve heard before.

The music of “M.F.A.” is one of the more disturbing scores I’ve heard this year; Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli went all in on the story, on the emotions of the characters, on the violence, angst and anger and somehow managed to transpose all this into music. It will not be an easy score to listen to or enjoy but you have to keep in mind the story it was written for and the visceral nature of everything that’s going on. Adrenaline is running high in the most aggressive cues and I am enjoying the eclectic and neon flickering ambience of the album. Sometimes the music makes me think of a more unnerving version of the atmosphere Cliff Martinez usually sets for Refn movies; the music is mostly sharp electronic and pulsating and I find the use of the female voice whether it’s humming or whispering to be quite intriguing and appropriate. Listening to this score in complete darkness and very loud makes it work even better.

As a standalone listen “M.F.A.” is further proof that the composing team of Sonya Belousova and  Giona Ostinelli is one of the more innovative and exciting to listen to  working today; it’s a bold move to write a score like this even for a thriller and some of the electronic moments were absolutely as fun as they were insane. Call me crazy but I played “Pursuing him” on repeat. Giona and Sonya do something different here and deliver an acid trip of a score which should not be missed. Don’t worry, there is catharsis in the end, also musically.

Cue rating: 83 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 10 / 29

Album excellence: 36

I’m not crazy
Escaping Kennedy
Conor’s death
So fucking good
Calvin in the trunk
Pursuing him

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).

  • 1

You Might also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.