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Soundtrack review: The insult (Eric Neveux – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The insult (Eric Neveux – 2018)

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“The Insult” is a 2017 Lebanese drama film directed by Ziad Doueiri and co-written by Doueiri and Joelle Touma. In today’s Beirut, an insult blown out of proportions finds Toni, a Lebanese Christian, and Yasser, a Palestinian refugee, in court. From secret wounds to traumatic revelations, the media circus surrounding the case puts Lebanon through a social explosion, forcing Toni and Yasser to reconsider their lives and prejudices. Eric Neveux wrote the score.

The score opens with “Shrine” which is a harmless guitar based cue that marks a light entrance into the album. The mood changes with “A burden”, a cue that for me is supposed to include all the weight of hate and prejudice. The composer chooses to make that weight emotional with a dense, ambient piece where subtle violin and cello motifs, discreet, quiet, play with each other in a sombre atmosphere. The cue is heavy and poignant, almost accusing once the percussion kicks in. I like the feeling of turbulence, or tribulation that this mix of different sounds evokes. There’s nothing certain in this piece. It’s only the beginning as the composer surprises me with the next cue, “My family”, which is one of those beautiful, moody slow piano pieces that instantly create a reflective cocoon around me; it’s not music to relax on, it’s haunting music to feel on and once again when the painful string motif kicks in I want to hear more. I love quiet melodic gems like this one where a solo violin and a solo piano give each other space and listen to each other’s stories.

The story itself and the topics it tackles are very serious so Eric Neveux treads very carefully with his music. There’s nothing joyful, nothing trivial about the way this score is written; the music has an almost religious respect in it, each instrument is played without rush, in long, sparse motifs except occasional moments when the story demands for a more frantic electronic approach like the beginning of “Spiral”. I enjoy much more the quiet emotional cues and even in a cue like this one the tone changes for that sweet, comforting quiet flow that also brings a bit of nostalgia for me with the synth vibe. A lot of cues have this duality of n abrasive motif and a soothing reflective one and I guess it marks the clash of the two sides of this story.

Musically “The insult” was a demonstration of various ways to write ambient music, from guitar to violin to electronic. I liked the different shades of emotion and the overall tone of the score, not ver heavy but thought provoking. I was actually surprised by how in tune with my ambient comfort zone cues like “Reconciliation” and “Damour” were and by how many 80s nostalgic atmospheric pieces I found.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 11 / 26

Album excellence: 42%

Highlights:
My Family
Reconciliation
Damour
The Verdict

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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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