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CRACKS – Javier Navarrete

December 4, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A British drama based on the novel by Sheila Kohler and directed by Jordan Scott, Cracks is a coming-of-age tale about a group of girls attending an elite boarding school in England in the 1930s; an established clique of girls idolize their enigmatic swimming instructor, Miss G (Eva Green), but the long-established order is upset following the arrival at school of a beautiful Spanish girl named Fiamma (Maria Valverde), who piques Miss G’s interest, and arouses tensions and feelings of jealousy in the other girls.

The score for Cracks is by Spanish composer Javier Navarrete, who received a great deal of critical acclaim and an Oscar-nomination for his score for Pan’s Labyrinth in 2006. Navarrete’s music for Cracks is very classical, almost to the point of being old-fashioned. Written almost entirely for a string orchestra, woodwinds and piano, it paints a picture of the school’s boarding school as somewhere out of touch with reality, an idyllic fantasyland where the girls play, safe from the world at large. It’s also very English-sounding, in that intangible way, such that one can imagine a composer such as Patrick Doyle, or Rachel Portman, or George Fenton having written the score. Fiamma, the tragic Spanish girl at the center of film’s story, has her own theme, a slightly withdrawn waltz-like theme for pianos that is pretty, in a sad sort of way, and eventually grows to encompass a sweeping, albeit rather foreboding, string accompaniment.

Cues such as “Lustful Thoughts”, “Radfield Sets the Standard”, “Midnight Swim” are exquisite, with dancing pianos and light, effervescent woodwind accents that create an atmosphere of carefree, youthful idyll. There is some darker material too, as the green-eyed monster of jealousy raises its head, and cues such “Stories of Africa”, “It Is Not Forever” and “Out of Bounds” reflect this, emphasizing more dramatic and sonorous viola and cello writing, but in no way losing the overall beauty of the piece. Other moments of note include the prancing pizzicato strings in “The New Girl”, which are so insubstantial one fears they might break; the cascading, lilting violin performances in “The Sultan and the Diamond”, which are subtly exotic; and the almost subliminal electronic accompaniment in “Jealousy”, which reminds me of Maurice Jarre’s score for Dead Poets Society, and adds a level of disquiet to the score.

Cracks is a truly lovely score, and comes highly recommended, although I would extend a word of caution to those who like a little more pizzazz in their film music, as for the duration of its length it does tend to present a very consistent ambience, with very little variation in tone, pacing or instrumentation.

Rating: ****

Track Listing:

  • The School (1:09)
  • Lustful Thoughts (2:20)
  • The New Girl (1:19)
  • Fiamma’s Theme (3:51)
  • Radfield Sets the Standard (1:39)
  • Fascination (3:06)
  • The Sultan and the Diamond (2:29)
  • Midnight Swim (2:09)
  • Suspicion (1:34)
  • School Photograph (1:02)
  • Stories of Africa (1:13)
  • Still Water (1:14)
  • It Is Not Forever (2:24)
  • Cracks (1:43)
  • Here Be Monsters (1:27)
  • Across the Ocean (1:44)
  • Fiamma’s Return (1:32)
  • To Dive Is to Fly (1:49)
  • No Promises (1:56)
  • Jealousy (1:24)
  • St. Agnes Eve (2:06)
  • Gypsy Dance (1:49)
  • Seduction (2:19)
  • Desperation (2:11)
  • Ruin (2:11)
  • Out of Bounds (2:43)
  • Forever (2:49)
  • Open Water (4:43)

Running Time: 57 minutes 55 seconds

Varese Sarabande VSD-6993 (2009)

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