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La Ligne Droite
  • Composed by Patrick Doyle
  • Varese Sarabande / 2011 / 40:09

The latest film from French director Régis Wargnier, La Ligne Droite is about the relationship which develops between a female athlete who has just been released from prison and the recently-blinded young runner she helps with training.  Wargnier has worked extensively with British composer Patrick Doyle, with the collaboration producing some of the composer’s finest scores (including Indochine and Est-Ouest).  Since few of Wargnier’s films have been easy to find outside France, I don’t suppose many of Doyle’s fans have been able to experience the music in context, and that seems likely to be the case for this one too – fortunately that doesn’t stop anyone from buying the soundtrack albums, and I would encourage all Doyle fans to do precisely that for La Ligne Droite, which has been released by Varèse Sarabande as a CD in Europe and via digital download in the US.

I am not always enamoured by Doyle’s “big” scores – wildly popular with some, he often seems to simply restate a big theme over and over so I am rarely enticed back for repeated listens.  However, he has almost always been impressive to me when working on a slightly smaller scale; and he has never written anything quite as beautiful as this before.  It’s mostly performed by a relatively small ensemble made up of members of the London Symphony Orchestra and features ravishing violin solos played by Carmine Lauri.  The melodic content is simply first-rate – energetic lines carried by the strings, interspersed with calmer, more reflective moments frequently featuring solo piano and many more urgent “semi-action” pieces.  Yes, it is a little on the repetitive side – but the music is so breezy, so pacy, the forty-minute album seems to pass in no time.  There are hints of Michael Nyman here in the way Doyle takes little cells and repeats and develops them over the course of (generally short) pieces; the results are seriously impressive.  This has swiftly become one of my very favourite albums by this composer and I doubt there will be many more beautiful film music albums released this year.  **** 1/2

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  1. Mastadge (Reply) on Saturday 12 March, 2011 at 22:37

    I agree, this is a wonderful score.

    Have you perchance heard Doyle’s “Corarsik”, dedicated to Emma Thompson?

  2. Mikal (Reply) on Tuesday 15 March, 2011 at 01:46

    Great review, Southall. I’ve gone through the samples for this score twice and thought they were gorgeous. Can’t wait to hear it in its entirety.

    Also, do you plan on reviewing Battle: Los Angeles? I’d be interested in hearing how you think it stacks up against last year’s The Expendables, of which you seemed to be pretty fond.

  3. Lucas (Reply) on Tuesday 15 March, 2011 at 13:58

    More reviews on Doyle!

  4. James Southall (Reply) on Tuesday 15 March, 2011 at 23:37

    I haven’t heard (or indeed heard of) Corarsik!

    As for Battle: LA, I’d like to, but I don’t have it – and am not sure I’ll buy it. I have literally fifty albums waiting here to be reviewed…