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American Hero by Lorne Balfe (Review)

posted Dec 10, 2015, 8:34 AM by Kaya Savas

Lorne Balfe reunites with The Sweeney director Nick Love for American Hero, ironically directed and scored by two guys from the UK. American Hero is a unique take on the superhero genre, depicting an everyday mess of a guy who has secret telekinetic powers that he keeps subdued. He drowns his pain in crime, sex and drugs but has a reawakening when he realizes he needs to use his powers for good if only to reconnect with his estranged son. The film has its own unique tone, a mix of drama and comedy. Lorne completely defies expectations and goes with a solo piano score that is resonates deeply beyond what you think this movie is.

The style of American Hero’s simply approached score could be described as a mix of Eric Satie with Ludovico Einaudi. It’s actually quite interesting to hear this from Lorne, who hasn’t approached a score this way before. While there are some slight electronic textures utilized, it never detracts from the pure emotions that are echoed through the melodies. The piano is a very personal instrument, the sound it makes evokes a very internal resonance. So it was a great choice to paint the portrait of a wounded character. There’s something genuinely beautiful coming from this focused score, it will really start small and grow within you. Lorne brings a full swath of emotional resonance in the final track when some other elements besides the piano fade in to build a great swell. The film bills itself has having some comedic quirks that echo from the characters’ personalities, but simply in the music there is quite an impressive character journey happening void of any comedy. The music doesn't really touch that part of the film at all. This score, in this film for this character hits everything so perfectly. This isn’t some careless style over substance approach at making a “different” superhero. There is a pretty interesting character study here. And with Lorne stripped down to nothing but a piano, we get to hear the pure essence of his melodic writing, and it’s pretty sublime.

American Hero will defy your expectations and give you an experience that will truly resonate. I did not see this score coming from a film like this, nor did I expect the approach Lorne would take here. It all comes together to paint a somber story of internal wounds healing. By the end you feel the character coming into a new light, there is lots of emotional growth. The solo piano approach with some light electronic textures was a perfect choice. The score is different both for the genre and for Balfe himself, which is refreshing because it’s promoting true creative growth. The result is a mini hidden masterpiece that lets us experience Lorne’s unfiltered melodic magic.