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Soundtrack review: Not afraid not afraid (Gabriel Yared – 2001)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Not afraid not afraid (Gabriel Yared – 2001)

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“Not afraid not afraid” is a dramedy about a highly dysfunctional family, and a woman who must learn to become a better person when facing death. Paula is an attractive and smart psychologist whose series of self-help parenting guides are a big hit. Unfortunately, her own family life is quite catastrophic as her relationship with her own children and the husband she is divorced from is practically non-existent. When she gets convinced that she is suffering from cancer, Paula decides to solve at least some of her problems, but an attempt at reconciling her differences with her grown-up children Sarah and Matthew leads to more grievance and quarrels. Unfortunately, the film was never released in theatres, and therefore did not reach a wide audience. Even after the production company re-edited the movie, it decided against distributing it. Gabriel Yared wrote the score.

Well, this is a first for me; I’ve reviewed scores that were not released, scores that were rejected but never scores for movies that didn’t get released. But it’s Caldera, the caviar of film music labels, and it’s Gabriel Yared, one of my favourite composer and a sort of fetish composer for Caldera, basically the only place where you can get your Yared fix so naturally I couldn’t wait to hear it. Naturally right from the opening piano notes I am welcomed to one of my most familiar and comfortable musical places, Yared land. A tiny surprise awaits for me as the composer actually writes a good old Americana tune and this is already nostalgia material for me. The next cue “Church tower” gives the score an intimate, chamber orchestra feel; it’s just strings and flute.

But this is not a classical orchestral score; like I said it has an Americana feel to it and the acoustic guitar takes centre stage in “Tom” next to the melancholic harmonica. I can almost smell the hay and see the warm summer sunset from my porch as I listen to this cue. I have no idea where the story from the movie is set but this is what the music evokes. In a way I could call this score minimalistic because there is space and an echo in almost every cue; the instruments are few and never crowd one another.

I think “Not afraid not afraid” is one of Yared’s more experimental and varied compositions as there are moments when the orchestra almost seems to improvise, like in “Fire”; it’s a fascinating standalone listening experience, quiet and light, like a miniature of a film score. I for one I am happy to have a chance to discover it.

Cue rating: 88 / 100

Highlights:
Opening
Tom
Paula’s House
Tom (Variation)
Grimaces
End Credits

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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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