The artistically experimental movie Loving Vincent is about two months old now, and I, unfortunately, still have not gotten the chance to see it yet. I have been scavenging the website to see if I can find any news of when it may come near me, but alas, there is no avail. However, my journey on its website did allow me to see a few other interesting tidbits about the film. When I saw that the score was written by Clint Mansell, the same man who blessed humanity with the score for Requiem for a Dream, I immediately decided that I needed to check out the score of Loving Vincent even though I have not seen the movie yet. Yet, is the key word here, but until then, let’s look at the soundtrack as a stand-alone (perhaps in the future I will add in some words about how the soundtrack complements the movie).
The album as a whole is driven by pulsing violins, which seems to be a staple of Mansell’s style, that guide the listener on through the soundscape. There is never a strict emotion forced into the listener, though there are a few passages where the music feels as though it has formulaic chord sequences. Overall, there is a subtle feeling of tension and brooding that oversees the music (fitting, since I was working on chemistry while listening), which is appropriate for a movie about Van Gogh’s life, and there is never a true break from this ominous presence until the end.
- The Night Café – Interesting track that does not hesitate to suck the listener into the album.
- The Yellow House – Continues the trend of pulsing violin and serves as the first track where the underlying tension stands out. The fairly simple three-note motif stands out the most, but it is the layering of all of the individual parts, none too complicated on their own, that establishes the mood.
- At Eternity’s Gate – A calmer piece that has more of a brooding feel to it.
- Portrait of Armand Roulin – More tension led by two three-note motifs that echo in a call and response fashion. A beautifully done build in intensity, though it is all kept fairly contained.
- Marguerite Gachet at the Piano – Another calmer piece led mainly by violins. It is a bit less droning and more melodic than some of the other tracks.
- Still Life with Glass of Absinthe & A Carafe – This piece begins as something one would expect as the background for a small café, but it quickly transitions into what may be the most intense piece of the ones seen so far. The transition, however, does not feel forced and works well. The ending is reminiscent of the opening track. A personal favorite track of mine.
- The Painter on his Way to Work – Initially a calmer piece led mainly by piano that leads to something subtlety darker.
- Five Sunflowers in a Vase – Though certainly not cheerful and bright, this piece seems to have a faint flicker of hope embedded into it. It still retains the same atmosphere as the other, darker pieces, but there is something about the flute that makes me feel that maybe things are getting a little better.
- Wheatfield with Crows – Another piece that surprises halfway through. What begins as a nice piano solo gradually builds up to what almost feels like a wall of beautifully organized chaotic sound. The piece briefly backs down at the end, but one can still feel the weighted emotions from the earlier build. Another favorite of mine.
- Thatched Roofs in Chaponval – Keeps the tension from the previous track throughout. It breaks into ominous territory with a fair amount of soft yet high-pitched strings overlaying a deeper drone.
- Blossoming Chestnut Trees – Returns to the sound of the first few tracks as far as style and instrumentation, but it is much, much darker. Things are definitely not going well here.
- The Sower with the Setting Sun – A bit of a resolution piece. The beginning has a sense of closing and reconciliation, but as the piece goes on, it drifts into the same menacing sound from earlier pieces, almost as if there is a “last straw” of some sort. The chorus at the end is similar to that found in the title track.
- Starry Night over the Rhone – A short conclusion track that builds up to a chorus and then quickly dies down.
- Starry Starry Night – The end credits song sung by Lianne La Havas. At first, the gentle crooning of La Havas’ voice seems to be a bit dissonant compared to the mood established by the rest of the soundtrack, but listening on proves it to still maintain the same brooding feeling with darker lyrics and instrumentation.
Final verdict: Overall, I would say that this is a well-done soundtrack. I’m looking forward to seeing it paired with the movie itself, but it definitely stands well on its own as art.