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Soundtrack review: The wizard of lies (Evgueni Galperine & Sacha Galperine – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The wizard of lies (Evgueni Galperine & Sacha Galperine – 2017)



“THE WIZARD OF LIES”, examines Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme – his deception, lies and cover-up, all as the financier’s wife and sons are catapulted into a harsh and unrelenting spotlight. A modern take on a scheme that dates back to the 1920’s called for a score that blends both modern and classic elements to tell this tragic tale of what led to a scheme toppling and the subsequent aftermath. The film stars Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer and the score was written by Evgueni and Sacha Galperine, two new names for me.

The main theme is a mysterious and pulsating cue that introduces at atmosphere of suspense and a dash of melody with the slowly struck guitar chords. I get the feeling of something sneaky and untrustworthy from this theme. I also hear two composers who are not afraid to experiment and who are not trapped in a regular main stream sound. The movie is about a scheme, a mathematical scheme that keeps growing and getting more and more complicating between splitting into many pieces and the somehow the composers are trying to express all this musically; it’s not easy but they are doing a good job as a cue like “Ponzi scheme” makes my head spin with it’s whirring and beating and twisting. The music is uncomfortable and the sounds and instruments used are meant to discombobulate and give the impression of constantly moving parts, hidden parts. There is barely anything melodic or emotional in this score, everything is calculated and rolled over and calculated again to the point where the score makes me think of all the small cogs and screws of a complicated mechanism moving and interacting with each other at the press of a button.

The composers gave a metallic and mechanic touch to their music and it’s not often that I hear a score like this that is devoid of emotion and sentiment, of humanity really and still keeps me interested. I have seen the movie and I remember that as it went on I was noticing these strange sounds in the score that were somehow enhancing the viewing experience, the tension, the idea of a complicated scheme. It doesn’t make for a very rewarding and enjoyable standalone listening experience but it makes for an interesting one. “The wizard of lies” is a dense score that gives me a sense of discomfort and of being an invisible creature inside a mechanical watch. Somehow Evgueni and Sacha Galperine set aside their classical music training and went for an experimental electronic sound to try and give the listeners and the viewer the impression of watching mathematical elements coming together without any care or interest for emotion. For me they succeeded, even if you will not hear me humming any motif from “The wizard of lies” any time soon.

Cue rating: 75 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 2 / 31

Album excellence: 6%

Ponzi scheme

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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