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Marcella by Lorne Balfe (Review)

posted Mar 9, 2018, 1:39 PM by Kaya Savas

Lorne Balfe continues to be present in every genre and medium, displaying his amazing versatility as a storyteller. Marcella may be something that isn’t on your radar if you’re living in the United States as I am. The British crime noir detective series follows Marcella Backland as a former London detective who is asked to come back on an unsolved serial killer case. She juggles the weight of returning to her life of investigating crime with her home life as well after her husband leaves her and takes custody of their children. The score is equal parts character portrait and a modern noir thriller. There is a lot here stylistically that we don’t hear much from Lorne in his film scores, and the result is something rather dynamic and effective.

Lorne scores Marcella with a very somber and empty feel. The score does a beautiful job of shaping her character for the audience. You don’t need any words to feel the emptiness and pain in Marcella’s life. We then have this gritty and textural side to the score that creeps in and does a wonderful job at creating dissonance and uneasiness. There’s a coldness to this dissonant side of the music that effectively creates tension. However, we aren’t getting the dreaded “ominious tones” that plague most TV crime dramas. The score here is textural and rhythmic, so we always have a shape to the music. As a whole we are simply following Marcella’s melancholic motif as it weaves through the darkness. It’s a score that grips you and gives you enough of a reason to care about our central character that when the music gets intense it has a great dramatic effect.

Marcella is a wonderful character portrait score built in a world of textural darkness. The music is able to build a modern noir that has a big human presence, and that’s the reason why it stands out a bit more. The show can be categorized as a detective crime thriller, but the show is named after the main character, so it needs to be about her. Thankfully the score is about her, and the way Lorne places her within this world is an impressive delight.