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Soundtrack review: Todo mal (Andrew Kawczynski – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Todo mal (Andrew Kawczynski – 2018)


“Todo mal” is a Mexican film written and directed by Issa López,The film follows Fernando (Osvaldo Benavides), a young diplomat who has just achieved the most important achievement of his career: returning Montezuma’s plume to Mexico. Fernando is also about to marry the woman of his life. The papers are reversed when Viviana (Marcela Guirado), Fernando’s girlfriend, confesses through Whatsapp that she has cheated on him, a message that arrives at the least opportune moment. Fernando loses the control he has maintained all his life, stealing the plume and throwing himself in an insane revenge, which can cost him the skin, his poor cousins who go behind trying to save him, and in passing, the plume of Moctezuma to a country that has been waiting 500 years for his return. Andrew Kawczynski wrote the score.

Andrew Kawczynski is like the best kept secret of Remote Control Productions, one of the most talented guys there and somehow it feels as if Hans Zimmer is keeping him away for now, away from mainstream film music as his compositions this year so far have been for a Chinese war movie and for this Mexican film. “El penacho de Montezuma” is the first score cue and I am instantly charmed as it sounds like the perfect opening of a fantasy film; it’s magical how it builds up into a majestic theme, chorus included in the background, a lively piece of music that inspires me and makes me think of legend. God bless Hans Zimmer for coming up years ago with this epic buildup which is probably my favorite technique in film music. There’s nothing quite like it to inspire me and yes, I didn’t expect to find it on a little known Mexican movie. I know it can’t last because the story is different but this opening theme alone makes the score worthwhile.

Indeed the tone changes dramatically once the action starts and the composer goes for a groovy, rhythmic modern sound infused with humming in the background. It’s a mixed affair, a fusion if you want of different sounds, some metallic, others melodic. A cue like “Te casas, cabron” actually reminds me of the music of Gotan Project, if you are familiar with them, only not as good. It’s clearly a musical satire and the kind of score that makes much more sense in the context of the movie.

Like I said, that opening cue, that magnificent piece of music is all that matters from this score, and I hope it’s a sign of (many great) things to come from Andrew Kawczynski.

Cue rating: 60 / 100

Highlight: El Penacho de Montezuma

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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