October 25, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

mamamanestenameriqueOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ma Maman Est En Amérique, Elle a Rencontré Buffalo Bill is an animated French film directed by Marc Boreal and Thibaud Catel, based on the graphic novel of the same name by Jean Regnaud and Émile Bravo. It tells the story of Jean, a six year old boy starting a new school. Having grown up without a mother, and not knowing who or where she is, he begins to make up tall tales about her and her adventurous life in order to impress his new school friends – even going so far as to create fake postcards and letters from her from Africa and the United States. However, his neighbor Michele, knows the truth about Jean’s real life, and the young friends bond over their unusual, imaginary family. The score for Ma Maman Est En Amérique, Elle a Rencontré Buffalo Bill is by the French composer and songwriter Fabrice Aboulker, and is yet another unexpected delight. Light, playful, thematic, and with some lovely passages for piano, strings and woodwinds, the score belies its children’s cartoon roots almost entirely by containing surprisingly sophisticated writing, all performed superbly by the Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra, recorded in Skopje.

The opening cue, “Je Suis Très En Retard”, is lively and energetic, surrounding a central piano theme with modern string rhythms and rhythmic percussion ideas. “Chouette, Yvette Vient Me Chercher à l’École” is effortlessly sunny and upbeat, centered around a guitar and piano duet with light percussion accompaniment and a sprightly, optimistic outlook. Later, “Paul, c’est Mon Petit Frère”, “Maman Me Manque Beaucoup” and “Noël à la Maison” have has a sense of sentimental nostalgia, especially in their sweet harp and woodwind writing, with the latter having a lovely Christmassy feel. Conversely, cues like “J’aime le Chocolat Magique”, “Vénert, Il Est Méchant” and “Papa Va s’Acheter Une DS “ veer off a little too far into comedy mickey-mouse caper music, although even these pieces are fun and catchy.

Two of the best cues are probably “J’ai Reçu Une Carte Postale d’Amérique” and “Un Duel Aux Billes”, in which Aboulker pulls all the traditional western clichés out of his bag of tricks. The former contains a broad, expansive theme that Morricone or Bernstein could have written, while the latter is more intense and dramatic pseudo-action cue with electric guitars, banjo and harmonica that intentionally pastiches those classic western gunfights, with grizzled banditos fingering their pistols, squinting at each other through the high noon sun. “Maman Ne Reviendra Pas” and the conclusive “Ma Nouvelle Maîtresse“ contain the score’s most emotional orchestral writing, with tender string writing, several beautiful restatements of the central theme, and classy arrangements that make the finale of the score warm, charming and satisfying.

The album is rounded out by two performances of the original song “Avec Buffalo Bill”, one by the popular chanson vocalist Marc Lavoine, and one by Algerian-born singer Hani Boutaa. Although Ma Maman Est En Amérique, Elle a Rencontré Buffalo Bill is short and sweet, it nevertheless leaves a generally positive impression. It’s not going to change the world or win any awards, but it’s a pleasant diversion, and makes me want to seek out more of Fabrice Aboulker’s works.

Buy the Ma Maman Est En Amérique, Elle a Rencontré Buffalo Bill soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Avec Buffalo Bill (performed by Marc Lavoine) (3:48)
  • Je Suis Très En Retard (2:16)
  • Chouette, Yvette Vient Me Chercher à l’École (1:36)
  • J’aime le Chocolat Magique (1:18)
  • Paul, c’est Mon Petit Frère (1:16)
  • Vénert, Il Est Méchant (1:05)
  • J’ai Reçu Une Carte Postale d’Amérique (1:19)
  • PapaVa s’Acheter Une DS (1:23)
  • Maman Me Manque Beaucoup (2:26)
  • Avec Buffalo Bill (performed by Hani Boutaa) (3:36)
  • Au Secours, La Police ! (1:46)
  • Un Duel Aux Billes (2:54)
  • Noël à la Maison (2:01)
  • Maman Ne Reviendra Pas (3:25)
  • Ma Nouvelle Maîtresse (1:18)

Running Time: 31 minutes 33 seconds

Label Anim 44 (2013)

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