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Labor Day by Rolfe Kent (Review)

posted Dec 26, 2013, 1:49 PM by Kaya Savas

Rolfe Kent is a supremely amazing composer whose impeccable talent to craft characters and emotions within his music is just extraordinary. His collaborations with director Jason Reitman have churned out some amazing work from Thank You For Smoking, Up In The Air, Young Adult and now Labor Day. That list of movies alone is notable just for the fact that they are all so different and require completely different scores. I wasn’t sure what I was going to expect coming into Labor Day, but what I found was a score that kept me emotionally drawn, unsettled and anticipating the ending to the story.

The story about a depressed single mother and her son who take in a convict is definitely an engaging plot. The characters don’t become readily apparent at the beginning of the sore. Instead, Kent sets us up with a bit of curiosity and uneasiness about the character of Frank the convict before he enters the lives of Adele and her son. The track “Price Mart” is a brilliant exercise in minimalism that continues to build and build. I think it's one of my favorite suspense tracks I've heard in a long while. It's not suspense with fear behind it, but more so curiosity and uneasiness. Once our characters come out of their figurative shadows we finally get some music that paints their portraits. The music can be described as broken beauty, and given the situation the characters are in I feel like it’s just perfect. The music continues to unravel and reveal deeper emotions all tinged with a touch of tragedy behind it. The feeling of loneliness and seeking anywhere and everywhere to satisfy loneliness is something the music echoes. The score is so simple and so beautiful as the long tracks slowly wash over you. The 3 songs included on the album appear at the beginning, middle and end. They are perfect pieces that work completely with the tone of Kent’s score. The final track of the score is nearly 8-minutes of simply wonderful scoring as the whole story comes to an emotional close.

You know when you get to that point of when you’re about to start crying, but you hold it and your eyes water a bit but you keep it restrained? That’s where this score exists. It brings the emotions as far as they’ll go without falling over the edge. They are restrained with a minimal approach that still holds tons of weight, but the score doesn’t wear its emotions on its sleeve. Rolfe Kent brings us inside these reserved characters all with hidden pasts, and slowly opens them up to us. There is beauty, sadness and uneasiness all tackled with a wonderfully calculated approach. It’s unfortunate the film is getting a January release where films are often forgotten and/or dismissed. Kent’s score is one that shouldn’t be dismissed as it’s one of his best works and a truly masterful effort.