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Soundtrack review: Mully (Benjamin Wallfisch – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Mully (Benjamin Wallfisch – 2017)

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Director Scott Haze chronicles the remarkable life of Charles Mully. What happens when a six-year-old boy in Kenya is abandoned by his family and left to raise himself on the streets? Mully is no ordinary rags-to-riches tale. It’s the true story of Charles Mully, whose unlikely stratospheric rise to wealth and power leaves him questioning his own existence, searching for meaning in life. Against the better judgment of family and community, Mully sets out to enrich the fate of orphaned children across Kenya. Jeopardizing his own life and the security of his family, Charles Mully risks everything and sets in motion a series of events that is nothing short of astonishing. Benjamin Wallfisch wrote the score.

Now Ben has been for me the composer of the year 2017 and this is just one last score to cap of an extraordinary 12 months from him where he wrote in different genres and managed to have the best horror score of the year in “It”, one of the best drama scores in “Bitter harvest” and, of course, the jewel of the crown, “Blade runner 2049”. The opening cue “Father To The Fatherless” is just another proof of the extraordinary musical range of this composer: forget horror, forget synth or electronic and welcome a melodic orchestral piece that would make even a composer like Patrick Doyle proud; this is pure emotional elegance and somehow the British composers have this sound in their DNA. The next cue “Nairobi” tones down the emotion but keeps the melody, only quieter, more melancholic and I am already in love with this score. There’s also a soft choir that makes things sound even more magical.

I feel the pain in “A child abandoned” as a cello sombrely plays a slow burning motif, grave and with the consistency of grounded stone. Ben Wallfisch cleverly introduces a warm piano motif to balance that darkness. Why not balance it all the way with a smooth, 70s like cool jazzy heist piece like “Mullyways”, just the kind of surprise you might find in a Wallfisch score if you listen to all of it. Then there’s a fresh combination of cello and electronics in “Beating” that works very well. There’s a whimsical, fairy tale chime in “Total madness”, a waltz of a cue that I could hear on a gothic fantasy score as well.

“Mully” is a score that has a heart and a soul, a score that quiet, minimalistic yet quite poignant and emotional. Benjamin Wallfisch also manages to not make the music heavy and overwhelming as there are playful or whimsical moments that balance the drama. This is the kind of score that some composers struggle to write while others, like Ben, write them with their eyes closed; I can hear the easiness and natural way in which he wrote this score and it makes for a wonderful standalone listening experience. Even if it was composed in 2015, it’s release at the end of 2017 only cements Wallfisch’s title as composer of the year for me. Add orchestral greatness to his list of achievements.

Cue rating: 92 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 24 / 40

Album excellence: 62%

Highlights:
Father To The Fatherless
Nairobi
A Child Abandoned
Beating
Total Madness
My Home Is Your Home
The Art Of Empathy
Finding Water
Mully Children’s Family

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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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