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Soundtrack review: Wonder (Marcelo Zarvos – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Wonder (Marcelo Zarvos – 2017)

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Based on the New York Times bestseller, WONDER tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman. Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade. As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to discover their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite them all and prove you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out. Marcelo Zarvos wrote the score.

I was very curious how a composer like Zarvos whose music is usually quiet and laid back would deal with a powerful emotional story like this. I am almost always listening tho his new scores because I know I will not be disappointed. He is one of those composers with a unique style that you recognise quite fast as I do as the melodic “Ordinary kid” starts playing. It’s a bright opening cue, simple and pleasant and the piano just delights me the way it opens up. I feel like I am introduced to a main character I will care about. The piano gets even better in “The first day” and I find myself in that relaxing comfort zone that Rob Simonsen’s music has been building up for the past couple of years; it’s that soothing and charming piano mood that could lighten up any frown.

I would like to find a score like this weekly among the releases because this is the kind of music that just lights up my mood and makes me forget about any worry and just enjoy the playful musings of the composer. All the tones are warm and comfortable and Marcelo Zarvos lets the piano play as freely as a kid in a huge and well protected playground and there is rarely anything better in music than letting the piano play free and joyful. The quieter moments are just as touching: in “Winter” the piano mood changes to melancholic and a subtle trembling violin motif in the background makes this particular cue reminiscent of Thomas Newman’s emotional cues.

At the end of the day this is one of the most sensible compositions from Marcelo Zarvos so far and I have rarely heard him use the piano so simple yet as majestic as he did in this one. The last few cues from this score are a solo piano delight, intimate and melodic and honestly among my favourite piano moments of the year because of the stunning honesty and simplicity. “Wonder” is indeed a wonder of a score, a gem that will make your day feel better.

Cue rating: 96 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 21 / 28

Album excellence: 73%

Highlights:
The First Day (Marcelo Zarvos)
Class Photo (Marcelo Zarvos)
Halloween (Marcelo Zarvos)
Winter (Marcelo Zarvos)
Via (Marcelo Zarvos)
Coney Island (Marcelo Zarvos)
The Other First Day (Marcelo Zarvos)
Letters (Marcelo Zarvos)
Spring (Marcelo Zarvos)
Camera Obscura (Marcelo Zarvos)
Graduation (Marcelo Zarvos)

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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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