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  • star_makerComposed by Ennio Morricone
  • Hollywood Records MH-62056-2 / 1996 / 52:28

Giuseppe Tornatore’s The Star Maker is about a conman who travels around Sicily pretending that he’s a casting agent for film studios, in order to entice desperate young hopefuls into furnishing him with a bit of money in return for having a fake screen test.  At first this is presented as a bit of lighthearted fun, but eventually the character’s increasing desperation is anything but fun.Ennio Morricone’s music – his fourth score for Tornatore – pretty much follows suit.  It opens with a delightful theme, vaguely comic; and there’s plenty of warmly nostalgic music in the album’s first half (particularly the jazz piece “Hollywood of the Poor”).  The score does darken as it moves on, though it’s always melodic.  A prime example is “Beata and Joe”, a beautiful love theme played by guitar, but it’s backed by an undercurrent of sadness.

There’s actually a lot of sadness here – but the music never quite plumbs the depths of desperation that one might expect (its darker moments certainly aren’t as dark as Cinema Paradiso‘s, for instance – and neither are its lighter moments as light).  The theme is more tragic than anything else during the score’s second half – the violin solo of “Screen-Test”, for instance, offers a kind of emotional resignation more than condemnation.  There’s an emotional depth here which makes this a score which doesn’t just deserve repeated listens, it demands them; and it continues revealing more and more.  It doesn’t have the knockout theme that distinguishes most of Morricone’s finest, but it’s a score worthy of exploration.  *** 1/2

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