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Soundtrack review: Paterno (Evgueni Galperine and Sasha Galperine – 2018)

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Soundtrack review: Paterno (Evgueni Galperine and Sasha Galperine – 2018)

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“Paterno” is a 2018 American television drama film directed by Barry Levinson. Paterno centers on Penn State’s Joe Paterno (played by Al Pacino) in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. After becoming the winningest coach in college football history, Paterno’s legacy is challenged and he is forced to face questions of institutional failure in regard to the victims. I remember this case because this guy died like two months after the scandal broke out. Evgueni Galperine and Sasha Galperine wrote the score.

The opening cue “He is the game” shows why this pair of composers have started to build a solid name for themselves in the last couple of years with their vibrant and slightly experimental style; a movie like this could have had a generic soundtrack but it’s not the case as an alert slightly electronically altered violin motif joins with a just as decisive brass sound for a cue that gives me the impression of something frantic and spry. “The arrow of time” is even better with that trembling, unsure and nervy string sound that to me always evokes personal fears and tribulations. The Galperine brothers a quickly becoming masters at it as I remember hearing it in “Loveless” as well.

The story itself is heavy and nuanced and the music moves with it; this is not just a supportive score that stay in the background as the images roll on. The music is an integral part of the movie, the music has a voice, and a powerful cue like “And his life flashed before his eyes” has none of the uncertainty I heard before. I appreciate it when film music makes me think and tells me something on its own; in the contrast between the two aforementioned cues I hear both the disillusion of time coming to an end and the conviction that it was well spent.

I like how Evgueni and Sasha Galperine evoke doubt and the feeling of being lost with a minimalistic, piercing sound. The melodies and motifs are crumbled and ground down and I can feel the discomfort in the music. Every now and then the experiments are paused and a truly dramatic cue like “A quiet storm” comes up to show me that these composers are not confined by their style and sound. Each cue is a carefully crafted little nugget of good music and I find something to connect with in each of them; I particularly like the reflective mood of “Memories of guilt”.

“Paterno” is a score that despite being short and minimalist in sound works well as a standalone listening experience as well. It’s not an underscore, rather a composition that is a miniature mold of the story itself with the twists, turns and tribulations it includes. The music is never linear. Evgueni Galperine and Sasha Galperine continue to develop a unique sound for themselves, a musical quicksand that I enjoy hearing more and more each time.

Cue rating: 78 / 100

Highlights:
The Arrow of Time
Memories of Guilt

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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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