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Soundtrack review: That good night (Guy Farley – 2017)

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Soundtrack review: That good night (Guy Farley – 2017)

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“That Good Night” is a 2017 British drama film starring John Hurt. It is based on N. J. Crisp’s 1996 play of the same name. It is also notable for being Hurt’s final film. Ralph (John Hurt) is the main character of the film, which is based on a stage play written by NJ Crisp. Being a famous screenwriter in the past, Ralph is now in his seventies, terminally ill and is struggling to restore the balance in his family, come to the terms with his moral principles and die with dignity. Ralph’s desire is to reconnect with his son, Michael and make sure that he doesn’t turn into a burden for his dearest wife Anna as he goes “into that good night”. Guy Farley wrote the score.

Caldera is a record label that doesn’t release a lot of scores each year but what they do cherry pick usually is perfect; lucky for me they have a fetish for two of my favourite composers, Gabriel Yared and Guy Farley and usually this is the only place where you can find their music. Another year starts and it’s time for Guy Farley’s latest. Needless to say this is one of those very few precious times when I am 100% sure I am in for a beautiful score.

No sooner the score opens with the main theme that all my expectations are already justified by a dreamy, whimsical piano and harmonica driven melody that makes me think of a fairy tale pastoral world I would never want to leave; it’s a gorgeous cue that has that special scent of the French riviera or of other Mediterranean places that only mean summer vacation. That dreamy vacation mood continues throughout the score as the composer presents us the landscape where the story takes place; the music is tender, gentle and what better way to keep it like that than with the flute and the harp. I know this is a drama and the emotions the story deals with are serious and deep but the music keeps the pain at bay for a while with this fantasy like sound that simply shines and soothes.

There are very, very few composers who can make light and lyrical music sound as deep and poignant as Guy Farley does. His music is a permanent smile, a permanent sense of hope and optimism no matter what the situation and a chance to discover whimsical, playful gems like “The fee”. I listen to “That good night” and I get flashbacks of Ennio Morricone in the way the music plays hide and seek with me in “An injection” or “John, Michael and Cassie”; I get the most wonderful ambient music nostalgia in “Call your dad”. It’s like every cue from this score is another, different, emotional experience.

Guy Farley builds his musical story with the care of a world class surgeon who also has the bedside manners of a priest. The piano, the flute, they all make me think of the title of a Milan Kundera novel “The unbearable lightness of being”; the music is both incredibly light and easy to listen to, like a warm summer rain, and poignant emotionally with a lasting impact. The composer does everything right and once again I feel the need to say something that I am beginning to think I should open every Caldera review with instead of ending it with it: this is a perfect film music score, and one of those stunningly beautiful compositions that Guy Farley graces us with whenever he gets the chance.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 41 / 41

Album excellence: 100%

Highlights:
That Good Night
The Horizon
The Villa
Reynaldo
Try Harder
I Love Portugal
The Fee
An Injection
Call Your Dad
Terminal
Birth
How Soon?
You’re Despicable!
John, Michael and Cassie
Symposium
His Beloved Rolex
You Can Be So Nasty
Trust Me
October
We Call it ALS
A Grandfather!
Reformed Character
Death and Poetry

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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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