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The Rendezvous
  • Composed by Austin Wintory
  • Varèse Sarabande / 55m

A globetrotting action/adventure film, The Rendezvous takes its cue from the classics of the genre from years gone by.  The two lead characters – played by Raza Jaffrey and Stana Katic – get tangled up in various mysteries as they first try to solve the riddle of her treasure-hunting brother’s death and then find themselves targeted by a doomsday group who think they might hold the key to bringing about the end of days.  Just another day at the office.

The film is directed by Amin Matalqa and, like all of his others, is scored by his friend Austin Wintory, making one of his occasional forays out of video games and into film.  Wintory is, as regular readers will know, one of my favourite current composers: his music always seems so personal, he is not afraid to do things differently – indeed, one of the most distinctive features of his scores is that they are often cut from a different cloth than the one you imagine most composers would use.  But for The Rendezvous, he’s given the film what may be his most “conventional” music yet, entirely appropriately given its nature – and he shows just how well he can do that, too.

Austin Wintory

The album’s title track has a lot of old-fashioned mystery in it, with some middle eastern flavours thanks to the various soloists, as the two main themes are introduced.  The first to be heard is actually the secondary theme, essentially for the bad guys – it’s got a certain dirty quality to it that is just spot-on.  Then is the main theme, often heard in somewhat jazzy form (including in its introductory statement) but actually it gets a lot of varied appearances throughout the album.  It’s a great melody with a noirish hint and a real old-school adventure vibe.  It next comes in a really romantic treatment in “You can’t go by looks”, where it leads into some interesting, dreamlike material with the violins playing towards the top of their registers and seeming to float around the listener.

“David!” is a gorgeous track, dripping with feeling, leading into a jazzy piano take on the main theme in “Do you feel like breaking the rules?” (performed superbly).  The next piece, “The prick stole it from me”, introduces a brilliant Bernard Herrmann-like suspense figure for the strings which I just love (it’s so dynamic and arresting, all the more so because it’s so rare to hear anything so striking these days used in this way).  This is followed by “Are you GPSing this?” which features the first real action music – its clarity of orchestration and indeed recording gives it a real power and there is flair too, thanks to the flamenco touches.

There’s some much darker action in “Sing to the Lord a new song”, the brassy, rhythmic nature recalling the music of the Lord himself Jerry Goldsmith to some extent; then comes one of the absolute highlights, “I don’t do guns”, a first-rate piece of film music with real style and panache to the action music, which goes from a rolling guitar take on the main theme into some tremendously furious brass writing which is so satisfying to anyone who grew up on the kind of film music I grew up on through the 1980s and into the 90s.

In “You’re not alone”, there’s a grand, sweepingly romantic statement of the main theme which represents the piece at its best; then some nailbiting suspense in “You’ve brought snakes to my garden”, which explodes into life and goes all-out action in its later stages.  “Strangely in Love” is actually a big string orchestra take on the gorgeous main theme from Matalqa’s previous film – and then we reach the grand action conclusion, the terrific “I will kill you for it” which is a really opulent piece of thriller music, so finely-detailed and carefully-constructed and filled to the brim with thrills.

The end title piece, “Claire de Claire”, has a genuinely touching backstory which speaks volumes for the friendship between composer and director.  It was actually a melody written by director Matalqa for his wife, who tragically passed away at the end of production of the film, and Wintory wrote this lovely orchestral arrangement of it as a tribute.  He’s a composer who obviously has a real heart and The Rendezvous is that rare thing, an action/adventure score which also has a real heart.  Alongside the sweeping romance there’s some great action material, and the composer proves that – while it may turn out to be a bit of a one-off for him – he’s just as capable at doing this as he is at the more spiritual music with which he’s usually associated.  I’m not sure I’ve ever got to the end of a review of an Austin Wintory album without saying this – I guess it will happen one day – this one comes highly recommended.

Rating: **** | |

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  1. Richard Jack Smith (Reply) on Monday 29 January, 2018 at 23:27

    Excellent review. Look forward to hearing this. I played Abzu recently, and Austin Wintory’s music was so relaxing.

  2. Rory (Reply) on Tuesday 13 February, 2018 at 06:57

    Huge thanks for doing what you do, James. This would have gone completely under my radar but for this review and I’m so glad it didn’t.