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Soundtrack review: The cry (Lorne Balfe – 2018)

TV

Soundtrack review: The cry (Lorne Balfe – 2018)

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“The Cry” is a television drama series filmed in Australia and Scotland and screening on the BBC and ABC. The Cry is adapted from the novel of the same name by Helen FitzGerald. Joanna and Alistair are young parents who travel from Scotland to a town in Australia, to visit family and fight for custody of the husband’s daughter, Chloe, against his Australian ex-wife, Alexandra. On the drive from Melbourne to Geelong, their baby son Noah goes missing on a lonely roadside. In the aftermath of the tragedy, under public scrutiny, their marriage collapses and her psychological state disintegrates. Lorne Balfe wrote the score.

Although this is a British drama and some people might expect sweeping orchestral music, the story at hand is intimate, personal and focused inward instead of outward; the pressure, the overwhelming event, all of them affect this couple and the music is also intimate, almost minimalistic at points, without a lot of instruments. Lorne goes for depth and uses short string motifs as drills, like in “Please, cry?” which is, if I can say, a reverse buildup in the sense that the music descends as the emotional impact grows and by the time the piano joins in and the cue ends I am emotionally drained, as if a terrible tragedy has happened to me. It’s a clever and honest construction to the cue as a cry that comes after a long period of being bottled up happens just like this, trickling at first before the big burst. There is also angst and loneliness in this piece and I had to listen to it again to capture more of its nuances.

Speaking of intimacy, the theme for “Joanna” is a quiet and poignant solo piano piece that echoes silently with just a subtle undertone of intertwined strings to mirror an emotional duality and the deterioration of her mental state. The strings get noisy at the end and drown the piano as if they were deafening voices inside someone’s head. Still for me the piano is the highlight of this score as each motif is carefully crafted and played and leaves an echo. The drama in the music always has something extra, a revolt, it’s never just elegiac. “Help you cope” is probably the only cue that falls into that category,

The strings of “The cry” are usually tormented and trembling and this way of playing them always gives the impression of vulnerability and doubt. “The drama triangle” showcases this best and I have to give props to the soloist who played it. It is a Lorne Balfe score so there are some electronic passages as well but they just enhance the impact of the instrumental parts. Sometimes the musical texture gets suffocating and once again I can relate to the main characters.

While it’s hard to beat “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” as Lorne’s best score of 2018, “The cry” is the usual solid TV composition from a composer who is constantly becoming more versatile and also specialized in British drama scoring. A bit different and more focused than scores like “Marcella” or “The crown”, “The cry” had a greater emotional impact on me.

Cue rating: 85 / 100

Highlights:
Please, Cry?
Justice for Noah
The Drama Triangle
Regrets
I Cave
Promise Me Now
Two Face

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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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