Backlight Soundtrack Review: This is a review of the film score Backlight by Nuno Malo.
At a glance:
71 minutes of score
Geek Score: 95.1
Total Minutes Of Excellence: 54.27
Album Excellence: 76%
Buy or stream? Buy
Backlight is a 2010 Portuguese science fiction drama directed by Fernando Fregata and starring Joaquim De Almeida, Scott Bailey and Skyler Day. In this film we follow a number of characters whose life has gone to shit but somehow they have an opportunity so save each other even though they don’t know each other. It delves into questions like existence and what’s it all about, the meaning of all this. These fates are obviously intertwined together somehow, but why? Why these people? Is it fate that has something else in store for them or is it just dumb luck? With a pinch of supernatural and technology, this story is being told through these characters, each with a different story to tell, but hopefully they’ll all end up at the same destination. The score is composed by Nuno Malo.
We start with a massive cue of over 8 minutes called ‘Daniel Saves The Girl + End Sequence’ and I have to say I am blown away by the opening which gives me goose bumps. Lovely soft strings and beautiful vocal performances. What’s not to love? This is truly amazing. I don’t know what part I love the most, but maybe the one around 5 minutes with the choir and that gorgeous theme. Yeah, this is the stuff, this is the reason I love film music. That’s a reason for existing right there. Superb! Well, I don’t know if it was smart to put one of the best cues I’ve heard this year at the top though. That put my expectations in the sky and beyond for the rest of the score. ‘Jay’s Depression’ tones it down a bit and yes, it’s sort of sad, but the start is actually the most uplifting part because it’s dark and luckily it’s also beautiful. Sting and piano go well together, and particularly when they are used in the way Malo uses them here. Beautiful. Second goose bump moment at 1:48. There’s something about that piano, the emotions behind the key presses. Jay’s theme is a lovely little motif played on piano and I can hear it again in ‘Jay Takes Off From Home’. Lovely stuff. ‘Matt Arrives At The Airplane’ use a Middle Eastern woodwind instrument. Interesting. Lots of heavy percussion as well. Matt’s theme is subtle a more calm and less intrusive theme that I’m not sure anyone will remember. Still it has a sort of ethereal thing going, just relaxing and calmness. ‘Jay Almost Commits Suicide’ is another beautiful cue, thematic and strong even in it’s soft wrapping. There’s also a lovely voice on here and choral performances to add to it’s excellence. ‘Rooftop – Jay’s Theme (Film Version)’ also contains one of the best themes of the score. Just great.
I find the title ‘Ending Slow Motion (Alternate Version)’ an interesting title seeming it’s cue 9 out of 29. Well this is dramatic, certainly more dramatic than anything I’ve heard so far, lots of horns, strings and percussion. I like it and it’s fun to hear Malo try a little bit of action because he’s obviously good at that. The cue ends with a beautiful vocal performance.The second superb amazing wow moment comes with ‘Saudade – Helena’s Photograph’ which is a simple guitar and vocal piece. It reminds me of some of the beautiful music Brian Tyler created for Battle Los Angeles. ‘Jay’s Theme (CD Version)’ is another take at that gorgeous little piece. Even though there are a lot of characters, they all have beauty in their music. When I first was introduced to Matt I wasn’t super impressed, but the second time with ‘Matt Talks About His Past’ the music shines through with the best of quality. It’s a minimalistic and quite simple theme, but it lingers, it is sticking with me and it’s quite lengthy too. Goose bump alert! I dare you to listen to ‘Matt Calls The Tow Truck’ and not be on the verge of crying. The beautiful vocal queue is so simple and yet so emotional. I’m speechless. I mean, the tow truck? Something so mundane and yet… Maybe it’s the theme for the tow truck, or maybe not, but damn that’s so good, so so good. Well let Matt continue, please, and so it shall be. ‘Matt Talks To Sister At The Cemetery’ is bringing back the Brian Tyler inspired cues from Bubba Ho-Tep and Battle Los Angeles. Awesome! Well I’m all out of goose bumps, and I’m running out of superlatives here but ‘Jay Calls His Friend’ is stupendously great. Not to rain on the parade, but there’s a part near the end where things (and music) shifts for the worse, particularly cues like ‘Rooftop Near Fall’, ‘Skylar On The Roof’ and ‘Shootout’. They’re not bad cues, in fact they’re good, but compared to the rest, they had no chance really.
I could probably go on and on, but this beauty I find in this score shocked me. I wasn’t expecting anything like this. Even after that wonderful opening cue, the score continues to impress me time and time again. This score will stick with me. The fact is that in time it will compete with the best scores of 2010 including The Last Airbender, Inception, Tron: Legacy and How To Train Your Dragon. That’s how highly I think of it. I will have nostalgia for this score 5–10 years from now and it might just become a classic in time. Gorgeous score. Go grab it from Kronos Record while you still can.
1. Daniel Saves The Girl + End Sequence*
2. Jay’s Depression
5. Jay Almost Commits Suicide
6. Rooftop – Jay’s Theme (Film Version)
7. Crossing Paths
8. Daniel Takes Off Into The Sunrise
9. Ending Slow Motion (Alternate Version)
10. Departure At Gas Station
11. Saudade – Helena’s Photograph *
12. Jay’s Theme (CD Version) *
13. Matt Talks About His Past *
14. Matt Calls The Tow Truck *
15. Matt Talks To Sister At The Cemetery *
16. Jay Calls His Friend *
18. Mother And Daughter Bond
19. Matt Dies… The Lake
20. Mother And Daughter’s Road trip
21. Jay On The Top Of The Hill *
23. Mother Daughter Safety
27. Main Theme Resolutions
28. Matt’s Theme – Reprise
29. Main Theme – Reprise *