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After the Wedding
  • Composed by Mychael Danna
  • Varèse Sarabande / 45m

Based on the 2006 Danish film of the same name, After the Wedding stars Michelle Williams, who travels from Kolkata in India to New York to try to raise some much-needed funds for the orphanage she runs. Director Bart Freundlich turned to Mychael Danna for the music – no stranger to films with an Indian flavour (albeit a superficial one in this case) and no stranger to serious dramas. His unusual score travels across a huge range during its brief running time (just over half an hour, with three songs making up the balance of the album) – there’s a gorgeous ethnically-tinged flavour at times, but only at times – the opening cue, “Isabel”, being a little misleading in that regard with its prominent use of the Indian bansuri flute. I was looking forward to an album of such swooning beauty, but it goes off on a very different course – one that turns out to be very rewarding indeed.

A much more classical (and western) theme is introduced in “Oscar Goes Home”, later reprised in the affecting “The Wedding” – Danna using an ensemble of just eight strings and a piano. But it’s far from all prettiness and light (much though those ingredients are used to great effect at times) – there is also a lot of stark, occasionally even abrasive suspense music from those strings, Herrmannesque if I dare suggest such a thing. Danna does it with real class: as the film and score progress, he gradually brings together the Indian sound (which he says represents the calmness of the present) with the strings (which represent the chaos from the past) into really impressive harmony, producing a work which is dramatically potent and emotionally satisfying. He’s a smart film composer, with stylistic tendencies somewhere about half way between Thomas Newman and Alexandre Desplat, and that’s a really fine place to be. After the Wedding leaves quite an impression – probably more than anything he’s written since his Oscar-winning Life of Pi. It’s pulled back slightly by its very piecemeal nature (with numerous very short tracks) but there’s a clear hand piecing them altogether into a narratively-satisfying whole, so that’s only a really minor demerit in this case.

Rating: **** | |

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