Home > Reviews > DEAR WENDY – Benjamin Wallfisch

DEAR WENDY – Benjamin Wallfisch

September 23, 2005 Leave a comment Go to comments

dearwendyOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

A new name in the film scoring community, until now Benjamin Wallfisch has been best known for his work orchestrating and conducting Dario Marianelli’s acclaimed scores Pride & Prejudice, The Brothers Grimm and V for Vendetta. What may not be immediately apparent from those projects is that the 27-year-old Englishman is a talented hugely talented composer in his own right – as his debut score for Dear Wendy attests. A Danish/British co-production directed by Thomas Vinterberg and produced by Lars Von Trier, Dear Wendy stars Jamie Bell as Dick, a young boy in a nameless, timeless American town, who establishes a gang of misfits who are in love with guns as a way of livening up their lives. It’s an unusual, typically Scandinavian film about youthful angst, socio-political issues, and alienation, which opened in the UK in August 2005, but has not received wide distribution in North America beyond the festival circuit, despite actors such as Bill Pullman appearing in supporting roles.

Wallfisch’s score is predominantly orchestral, led mainly by piano and strings with subtle electronic enhancements, and is generally small and intimate – but despite its lack of scale it has definite sense of quiet, cold beauty, and features several appealing cues over the course of its short 33-minute running time. Once in a while, Wallfisch allows the orchestra to rise to perform some gorgeous orchestral themes, and even works a choir into the darkly beautiful “Wendy Calls to Dick”. There’s more than a hint of James Horner in some the woodwind writing, especially in cues such as the beautifully downbeat “Showdown” the surprisingly magical and heroic-sounding “The Dandies”, and the moving “Final Tragedy”, while the gentle “Electric Park” and the desolate-sounding “Dick’s Theme” bear more than passing references to Thomas Newman, especially in the piano parts.

There’s some vicious string-led dissonance in “Ultimate Darkness”, a cacophonous action cue in “Close Escape”, and some incredibly vivid avant-garde string writing in the bonus track “Prism”, all of which bode well for Wallfisch’s future. If he is this adept at following in the footsteps if his peers at this early stage in his career, just think what he’ll be like when he has free reign to write what he wants. This is definitely a composer to watch, and someone who film music fans should invest in from the beginning.

Rating: ****

Track Listing:

  • Showdown (2:29)
  • First Letter (1:36)
  • Electric Park (2:10)
  • Dick’s Theme (1:13)
  • First Shot (1:28)
  • Dick’s Story (1:20)
  • The Dandies (3:34)
  • We Were One, Wendy (1:03)
  • Dick’s Insanity (1:03)
  • Wendy Calls to Dick (2:27)
  • Ultimate Darkness (2:40)
  • Close Escape (2:44)
  • Final Tragedy (2:06)
  • End Credits (1:01)
  • Prism (Bonus Track) (5:29)
  • Discovery (Bonus Track) (1:01)

Running Time: 33 minutes 29 seconds

MovieScore Media MMS06004 (2005)

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