Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Babies by Bruno Coulais (Review)

Bruno Coulais is a great composer, and while you may not recognize his name he has been composing since the late 70’s. The French composer has also had experience in the documentary genre with his scores to Winged Migration and the recent Oceans.

For Babies the score doesn’t so much act as an emotional backdrop as it does just a backdrop. Little spurts of music here and there, and while it has a character and an identity it never comes into its own. The score release is evident that there was not much music in the final film since the total running time clocks in around 27 minutes, and that counts the song by Sufjan Stevens which was heard in the trailer.

As a standalone experience it fails. It hooks you with its charm, its sound and its warming use of vocals but it never reels you in. Quite honestly, I was listening to it waiting for it to grasp me and then I heard hollow vocals chanting “Agnus Dei”. I realized that Babylon A.D. (which is next alphabetically in my iTunes) had begun playing. I was surprised that the score was already finished.

So, the score has all the charm and character in the world, but goes nowhere with it. It never hooks and feels monotone at times with no real change in the pacing. Maybe this was all the film required, and in the end it is the composer’s job to service the film not the album release. That’s something I always keep in mind, but when I feel no emotional connection to the score I usually tend to forget it.

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