Latest reviews of new albums:
The Right Kind of Wrong
  • Composed by Rachel Portman
  • Varèse Sarabande / 2014 / 37m

A Canadian movie released there late in 2013, The Right Kind of Wrong has the fairly standard-sounding romcom plot (man falls in love with woman – while she’s getting married to someone else!)  It stars True Blood‘s Ryan Kwanten and The Vampire Diaries‘ Sara Canning but there is nowhere near as much blood and gore as that may imply.  The film marks the first time director Jeremiah Chechik has released a film theatrically since 1998’s The Avengers, which you may recall was not a film that impressed too many people (perhaps this film’s financiers saw the film’s name on his resumé and thought he’d made the more recent, slightly more successful one).
In 1993 the director made Benny and Joon, which featured a score by Rachel Portman, and now the duo have resumed their collaboration a couple of decades later.  Having been the undoubted composer-of-choice for this kind of film around that time and the years that followed, Portman seems to have fallen below the radar somewhat in recent years – I was surprised to see how many credits she has accumulated in the last five years, but largely it seems on lower-profile films than she used to do.

Even if you didn’t know who the composer was, I suspect you could take a quick glance at the album cover and know what this score is going to sound like.  I don’t mean that in a dismissive way – but this is a genre which lends itself to a tried-and-tested formula.  Separating the wheat from the chaff comes down to the skill of the composer at coming up with nice melodies – you know you’re going to hear a lot of gentle, light instrumentals, strings are likely to figure heavily, guitars of course – and that’s fine when you get some decent tunes.  And the reason Portman rose to the ascendency in the genre is that she does it better than anyone else – there are some lovely themes here, particularly the sweeping romantic one which opens the score.  A rambunctious waltz is another highlight, and there’s a more tender theme of course for the heavier moments.  In between, lots of plinky-plonky, lovely but ultimately limited fluff.  A pleasure to listen to it, but one of those albums you have a hard time remembering much about when it’s over.

Rating: *** | |

Tags: , ,

  1. ANDRÉ - CAPE TOWN. (Reply) on Sunday 16 March, 2014 at 15:08

    I fell in love with the very beautiful music of RACHEL PORTMAN after viewing SIRENS way back in the ’90s. Hugh Grant plays an English priest on a visit to the Australian outback. To the accompaniment of Portman’s exquisite melodies, the priest & his wife are introduced into a liberal, artistic world of eroticism & liberalism. I’ve been a devotee of her music ever since that film! She musically captures the essence of the English countryside, with suggestive Celtic influences, in a way that is reminiscent of RALPH VAUGHN WILLIAMS. Her Oscar winning score for EMMA is magical, as is WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD – Helen Mirren as an English widow who moves to Tuscanny and is easily seduced by a pretty boy Italian gigolo- type. ‘THE CLOSER YOU GET’ & 2014’s ‘PARADISE’ reveal PORTMAN at ease with light, pop music themes while THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE shows her more dissonant, complex style. Her music for THE VOW had to become simpler – to avoid her usual heartrendingly lovely music detracting from the actors. Both PORTMAN & [the late] GEORGES DELERUE create ’emotionally direct’ & very beautiful music that few composers can emulate – but their musical signatures are unique and individualistic. James, I continually listen to both PORTMAN & DELERUE – and never tire of their music’s harmonious structures, carefully calculated emotive counterpoints and melodies of transcendental fragility that touch the soul.