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Colette by Atli Örvarsson (Review)

posted Oct 11, 2013, 7:05 AM by Kaya Savas   [ updated Oct 11, 2013, 1:02 PM ]

Colette is a film based off the novella A Girl From Antwerp by Czech author Arnošt Lustig, The story is also based off the author’s own personal life as a Jewish man living through the Holocaust and surviving in Auschwitz. This is a love story set under the terrible life experiences of the Holocaust, and composer Atli Örvarsson is behind the beautiful score that accompanies it. Two of Atli’s recent scores have really connected with me greatly, one being A Single Shot and the other being Colette. These two scores see the composer venturing into new territory and out of his usual action realm. Colette is an amazing score that shows what Atli can accomplish emotionally and thematically with rich material like this.

Colette must have been a challenging score to write because the story is dealing with something beautiful like love and something horrific like the Holocaust. The score never dips too much one way and finds that excellent balance at being despairingly beautiful. The main theme is stunning but has enough restraint that it doesn’t overpower. Throughout the score Örvarsson is able to do variations to make it weak as if it’s a candlelight that could easily be blown out. You feel the frailness of the world around the characters, but the bond of love is always there. There is a delicate nature to the music but there’s also despair and pain when the narrative calls for it. Since the story involves an escape from the concentration camp there are plenty of times where Örvarsson’s trademark pulsating strings add just the right amount of suspense and energy. You’re never excited by the music but more so anxious as you know the stakes here and the reality the story is based on. The finale is indeed the light at the end of the tunnel and that beautiful theme comes back is if it’s learning to stand for the first time.

Colette is a masterful score by Atli Örvarsson. It’s a project that we haven’t seen from him before, but one I hope we see the likes of soon. I think Colette is without a doubt one of his best, most emotionally sensible scores. Its beauty and despair are amplified more so by the restraint of the music. It’s a very moving experience.