Score Reviews‎ > ‎

Fathers & Daughters by Paolo Buonvino (Review)

posted Nov 5, 2015, 8:24 PM by Kaya Savas

Fathers & Daughters stars Russell Crowe as a widowed father raising his daughter. He’s a popular writer who becomes ill, and as his daughter grows up she has a hard time moving on from the pain that was left from her past. The film is directed by Italian director Gabriele Muccino, so you can expect a hefty amount of melodrama here. While he relied on different Italian composers for his past films Seven Pounds and The Pursuit Of Happyness, he brought on Paolo Buonvino who has scored some of his Italian films in the past. The score knows what kind of movie this is, and has no reservations to laying down melodrama so thick you can barely move. Sometimes it will resonate, most of the time it doesn’t.

The problem with these types of movies, is they try so damn hard to make you cry. I mean, you’ll watch the trailer and turn into Sadness from Pixar’s Inside Out. The central motif which is heard in the track “Fathers & Daughters” is actually very beautfiul. I think the music captured something very nice there, and Buonvino echoes that very well through the score. The rest of the narrative is so thick with schmaltz and melodrama that you are not given the chance to react to the music as a human. You listen and go “sad music”, then it gets upbeat and you go “happy music”. You need nuances in the storytelling to make the music something organic and resonating, instead of a textbook example of “sad music”. It also has that saccharine “bounce” that melodramatic scores have, and that really irks me. It sounds like the music is scoring a bike ride through a meadow on a sunny day at times, and it overpowers any natural emotional response you’d likely have to the image itself. It’s as if the score was written and forgot that the image would be played with the music as well. You have to let the image work, it’s a partnership. The score doesn’t do a particularly great job of creating a build to the conclusion, so when it ends it kind of just ends.

Fathers & Daughters is another poorly structured and poorly approached schmaltzy melodrama. The emotions are forced and the music is constantly telling you how to feel instead of telling a story and accompanying the images on the screen. The one beautiful current running through it is the titular track, “Fathers & Daughters”. There is really something special there, and we get three versions of it throughout the score. However, it’s not enough to keep this musical soap opera from going all over the place making sure you feel pretty damn sad about the girl and her sick dad. “Show, don’t tell” is a rule told to screenwriters, but it is just applicable to scores. Show us the emotions of the story through the music, don’t tell us how to feel.