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Soundtrack review: Thi Mai (Fernando Velazquez – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Thi Mai (Fernando Velazquez – 2018)

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“Thi Mai” is a 2017 Spanish drama. Carmen is a mother who lost her young daughter in an accident. After staying desolated cause the lost, the woman receives a letter where says that she has accepted to adopt a Vietnamese child. Carmen will decide to searching her baby girl with her friends Elvira and Rosa. When women arrive to the country, they will discover the differences of both cultures, meanwhile they will help by Andrés, a Spanish actor who lives in Vietnam with his partner, and by a regional guide touristic. Fernando Velazquez wrote the score.

The score opens with a passionate tango, the theme for “Elvira”; it captures so perfectly the stride I imagined a story like this might have. With the playful guitar musings of “Tres amigas the Pamplona” I connect very easily to the lighter side of Fernando Velazquez’ music. The smile I had in the corner of my mouth fades away as the darker, quieter “Que Le Ha Pasado a la Niña” brings a sudden cloud over the sunny mood of the score so far. I can’t help but love the slow piano, the sad texture and the barely touched strings. Three cues in and I think the composer sets the boundaries of his sound for this score, from happy to sad, without any of them being too overwhelming.

This is in essence a comedic score and I an barely recognize the depth and complexity I’ve grown to love about Velazquez’ music; the music is pleasant though, melodic, even celebratory at times and it puts me in a very good mood. A cue like “Bienvenidos a Hanoi” takes me back to silly European comedies I used to watch as a kid with the playful rhythm that would not fail on a Saturday morning children’s TV program. The entire Vietnam is presented with jumpy strings that evoke a bit of the Asian setting and with a fun and fast pace.

I enjoy the rare serious cues that describe the main characters; the piano in “Carmen” changes the mood of the score completely. In general the solo piano pieces in “Thi mai” are something else, like sudden clouds on a perfectly sunny day. The composer doesn’t get too dramatic and it makes me think that despite the story the movie is light and has a positive tone. It’s nice to hear joyful Asian string motifs blend so well with the music. Some cues are like pieces of themes, left unfinished but with good dramatic potential and it’s quite a find in a score like this.

Fernando Velazquez can write nice score on his break. “Thi mai” has none of the weight or orchestral depth of his usual body of work but at the end of the day, puts me in a very pleasant mood once it’s over. And when I get a perfect Ennio Morricone nostalgia moment in “Devolver toto lo Bueno que has recibido”, I found my gem.

Cue rating: 83 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 16 / 48

Album excellence: 33%

Highlights:
Elvira
Que Le Ha Pasado a la Niña
Bienvenidos a Hanoi
Vengo de tu parte mama
El arrozal
Devolver Todo Lo Bueno Que Has Recibido
Thi mai

Tags:
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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