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Soundtrack review: The sinner (season 1) (Ronit Kirchman – 2017)

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Soundtrack review: The sinner (season 1) (Ronit Kirchman – 2017)

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“The Sinner” is an American crime drama mystery television series, based on the novel of the same name by Petra Hammesfahr. The series follows Cora, a young mother, who lives a quiet life with her husband, Mason. Their lives are torn apart after the events of a beach outing, where she brutally kills a man in public and at first seems to have no idea why she did so. Assigned to the case, Detective Harry Ambrose delves into Cora’s past to find shocking secrets and emotional trauma. Ronit Kirchman wrote the score.

There is a very nice little retro vibe in the main title “Swim”. I get a feeling of retro game nostalgia while listening to it and it’s really one of the most precious feelings music can give to me. I’ve always been more drawn to the ambient, reflective side of music so when I run into a score that plays the way “The sinner” does, I am quite happy. It’s all about the mood and texture and it’s often hard to explain, since ambient music is something you experiment rather than read about. But for me, the sparse motifs and the slow burning music spiked with occasional electronic bursts are familiar and comfortable places; in “Shallow grave” for one I get a very strong “Tron: legacy” vibe.

Afterwards though the tone of the score changes to match the story and this hurts a bit the standalone listening experience. The music gets stringy, uncomfortable to listen to, piercing and full of sharp edges. It’s still minimalistic but it’s no longer reflective; the only thing is reflects is the anguish and trauma of the story and whenever a warm piece like “Try again” comes alone it’s like a soothing balm after a beating. There is this constant feeling of pain, of being hurt in the music and it just enhances the atmosphere of the TV show. Outside that context there are few cues that I can enjoy, but when they come around, like another retro gem like “Tangerines” they make it all worthwhile.

“The sinner” is a dense and affecting score that makes the casual listen get a taste of the atmosphere of the TV show, of the discomfort and angst. It’s definitely not an easy score to listen to.

Cue rating: 70 / 100

Highlights:
Shallow Grave
Tangerines
Thank You

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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