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Soundtrack review: Fallen (Mark Isham – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Fallen (Mark Isham – 2018)

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“Fallen” is a 2016 Hungarian-American romantic fantasy drama film directed by Scott Hicks, based on the novel of same name by Lauren Kate. The film stars Addison Timlin, Jeremy Irvine, Harrison Gilbertson, and Joely Richardson. Lucinda “Luce” Price is a strong-willed seventeen-year-old living a seemingly ordinary life until she is accused of a crime she didn’t commit. Sent off to the imposing Sword & Cross reform school, Luce finds herself being courted by two mysterious students to whom she feels oddly connected. Isolated and haunted by strange visions, Luce begins to unravel the secrets of her past and discovers the two men are fallen angels, who she learns have loved her for centuries.Luce must choose where her feelings lie, pitting Heaven against Hell in an epic battle over true love. Mark Isham wrote the score.

The movie sounds strange and got very bad reviews but I listen to everything and anything Mark Isham releases so I am in for this one as well. “Prologue” opens the score and it dives straight into a dark gothic sound complete with choirs and that sweet misty haunted castle mood. Usually Isham has his very distinctive sound that rarely stirs up passion or leaves the carefully constructed confines but this time it seems a small window just opened because the piano and the beautiful, haunting strings bring emotions that I rarely associate with Isham’s textural mastery. The grave and minimalistic orchestral sound of “Sword and cross” evokes a warmth that I welcome dearly. I feel as if I am listening to a cue by Fernando Velazquez. The music sparkles and glimmers and I am invested in the story the composer tells me, a tale of deep mystery.

“The first meeting” ads to that an ambient component that make me connect even better with the score; the more I listen to “Fallen” the more it feels like a composition where Mark Isham got out of his comfort zone and let his imagination and emotions drip into the music. Piano has always been his favourite instrument but here it just has a fairy tale sound to it that give me goosebumps enough times. The vocal inserts also evoke a whimsical world and, as always, I applaud a score that feels like a story in itself. Plus I am such a fan of reflective, ambient music that ironically I almost can’t think straight when I hear cues that sound like that. “Daniel draws” is just a sublime piece of music that shows just how good a composer Mark Isham is while I am sure you haven’t heard a cue as shattering as “Luce’s test” from him ever before.

“Fallen” ads another dimension to Isham’s sound, to his love for the piano and represents maybe his first true fantasy score; it’s a dark and tender composition, melodic and seductive and a score that I actually can’t get enough of. Lately with albums like “The accountant” and “A family man” Mark Isham had already eased his way back int my favourite composers list but “Fallen” is just in a league of its own. It is a stunningly beautiful score, as pretty and fragile as butterfly wings at times but always meaningful, always keeping an angelic, innocent feel to it. Heaven and Hell are both well represented as those moments find their contrast in scary, skin crawling pieces like “Shadows”. All in all, Mark Isham delivers one of his best and also most unusual scores. Do not miss this one.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 39 / 52

Album excellence: 75%

Highlights:
Sword and Cross
The First Meeting
Statue Rescue
Daniel Draws
Fencing
Swimming
Paris
Birthday
Fire in the Library
Infirmary
Luce’s Test
Our Lives Together
Angel Battle
Fallen

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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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