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Soundtrack review: Pickpockets (Alex Heffes – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Pickpockets (Alex Heffes – 2018)



“Pickpockets” is a 2018 Dutch film and it’s about aspiring teen thieves who learn what it takes to be successful pickpockets on the streets of Bogota from a master in the art of trickery and deception. Alex Heffes wrote the score.

Heffes is no stranger to scores with an ethnic component and here as well, right from the title cue he brings his unique mix of ethnic and electronic as the wood instruments feature over a rhythmic pace. I like it that the music is catchy right from the start, it helps a lot with my enjoyment of a score if I can find something to grip, if it’s not just background music. This is actually the strength of this particular score, that it’s not boring. The composer plays with sounds, with texture, with tension and even if more often than not the sound is cold and not melodic at all, the score is interesting to hear. There is a special kind of tension, alive, palpable, in that electronic sound.

The overall tone of “Pickpockets” is that of a heist score, with the funky bass mirroring the sneaky movements of the young thieves and the occasional raw guitar probably evoking the setting of the story. Like I said the music is not comfortable to listen to, not smooth at all and the warm sounds are lacking almost completely but still this gets me as a listener closer to the atmosphere of the story which is a combination of harsh and exciting. A cue like “Printing operation” can stand with the best heist cues I’ve heard lately.

As the score progresses I can identify a main motif which appears both on “Back to work” and “Other pickpockets”, a combination of electronic reverb and electric guitar that sticks with me like a musical question mark. It’s about the one thing that stuck with me from this score, maybe next to the atmosphere. As a standalone listening experience “Pickpockets” doesn’t offer much above the tense alert texture, maybe it works better in the context of the movie.

Cue rating:63 / 100

Fresh & Juana

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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