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Soundtrack review: Adrift (Volker Bertelmann (Hauschka) – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Adrift (Volker Bertelmann (Hauschka) – 2018)



“Adrift” is a 2018 American romantic drama film produced and directed by Baltasar Kormákur and written by David Branson Smith, Aaron Kandell and Jordan Kandell. Based on a true story and set in 1983, the film stars Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin as a young couple that gets stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean during a hurricane and must find their way to Hawaii with a damaged ship and no radio. The scores was written by Volker Bertelmann, also known as Hauschka who, just as Tom Holkenborg / Junkie XL keeps going back and forth between his real name and his alias.

Hauschka is one of those composers who have managed to create a sense of order in the chaos of experimental music and his music now has a clear identity. The opening of this score puts me right into the dark and uncomfortable setting of the story; the music feels like grounded glass with tortured, dissonant strings that create an atmosphere of uncertainty. “Destination unknown” brings warmth to this score with a melodic piano motif and a string background that tell me that I am listening to a romantic drama score. The range of this composer is obvious right there from the first couple of cues. I slowly drift away in dream land when I hear the romance in “Tami meets Richard”.

There is something about the natural way in which romance and drama play with each other, about the contrast between the soothing, melodic piano and the jumpy, uncertain string motifs that gets to me and makes me connect very well to this score. The core of this compositions is warm and what comes around it follows the story without altering this pleasant base. When he wants, Hauschka can make his music sound sublimely minimalistic, like in “Dinner sunburnt” which could be one of his most beautiful love themes yet while the next cue “Makeshift mast” just breaks my heart with a melancholic string motif.

The score for “Adrift” makes me feel; that’s the most important thing music can do for me and Volker Bertelmann’s composition does it from start to finish. There are no filler moments and every single minute tells me something; even if the music could count as minimalistic, there are passages when the piano and the strings become sweeping. Other times the music is quiet but always tender, there’s always that emotional warmth that doesn’t let me forget that regardless of the danger in the story, there is always hope.

“Adrift” is already one of my favourite Hauschka scores; it’s the equivalent of “The mountain between us” for Ramin Djawadi, a dramatic romantic score that showcases the talent of this composer. Definitely worth a listen.

Cue rating: 84 / 100

Destination Unknown
Dinner Sunburnt
So Far North
Letter Montage
Will You Marry Me

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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  1. Colin Sutherland 3rd August 2018

    Adrift must be the most beautiful soundtrack I have ever heard,it is absolutely stunning.


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