Home > Reviews > SON OF RAMBOW – Joby Talbot

SON OF RAMBOW – Joby Talbot

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Son of Rambow is an English coming-of-age story set in the 1980s about two young boys – one a school bully, the other coming from an oppressive religious family – who, having sneaked in to see First Blood at the local cinema, decide to make their own home-made action movie, with which they hope to win a young filmmakers competition. The film was written and directed by Garth Jennings, and is scored by the supremely talented English composer Joby Talbot, who scored Jennings’ last film, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the cult TV series The League of Gentlemen.

After a trip down amnesia lane with some nostalgic early-80s classic pop songs from The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Duran Duran, Gary Numan, Blondie and Human League, Talbot’s short 25-minute score takes centre stage. The opening “The Best Day of All Time” is a fanciful staccato march, intentionally comedic-sounding, with a circus-like calliope effect and elephantine brass chords, and which recapitulates in “First Day Filming”.

“The Scarecrow” is an unusual metallic percussion track that sounds like something from the stage show Stomp, and is very unconventional; later, the score opens up in tracks such as “I’m French, Non?” with some lovely, lush string writing underpinned by a contemporary beat. The “Disaster” cue contains some brash and propulsive action material, all drums and slashing strings; “The Sad Day” is, as one might expect, more introspective, with a tender string theme and a glittery harp element that eventually opens out into a lovely, sweeping melody.

The score concludes with a sincere piano theme in “Can You Fix It?”, performed by Talbot himself, which director Jennings describes as ‘heart-breaking’, and a final statement of the main thematic march and some more exciting action music in the last cue. Although Son of Rambow is not as singularly enjoyable or memorable as his work on Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or the League of Gentlemen TV series, there is still plenty to recommend, especially if you know and like any of those earlier scores, and more than underlines my long-held personal opinion that Talbot is one of the most exciting young English composers to emerge into the film music world in the last five or six years.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Close to Me (performed by The Cure) (3:39)
  • Peek-A-Boo (performed by Siouxsie & The Banshees) (3:09)
  • I Can’t Wait (performed by Nu Shooz) (3:40)
  • Wild Boys (performed by Duran Duran) (4:15)
  • Egyptian Reggae (performed by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers) (2:36)
  • Cars (performed by Gary Numan) (3:54)
  • Our Lips Are Sealed (performed by Fun Boy Three) (2:52)
  • Rapture (performed by Blondie) (4:57)
  • Bang Zoom (Let’s Go Go) (performed by The Real Roxanne) (3:32)
  • Love Action (I Believe in Love) (performed by Human League) (3:49)
  • The Best Day of All Time (3:13)
  • Bicycle Ride (1:12)
  • The Scarecrow (1:15)
  • The French Kid (0:36)
  • First Day Filming (1:01)
  • I’m French, Non? (2:29)
  • Disaster (3:03)
  • The Sad Day (4:14)
  • The Hospital (1:29)
  • Can You Fix It? (2:02)
  • Son of Rambow (4:21)

Running Time: 61 minutes 49 seconds

Bulletproof Records 91041 (2008)

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