Score Reviews‎ > ‎

Orphans & Kingdoms by Giovanni Rotondo (Review)

posted Apr 18, 2016, 4:56 PM by Kaya Savas

Orphans & Kingdoms is a small indie film from New Zealand about 3 orphans on the run who break into a lavish island home. They decide that since it looks like a vacation home that is rarely used that they can stay there. The owner comes home, the teens panic and knock him out. The isolated man has secrets of his own as do the teens. The two form a bond, and a deep character study unfolds. The score is by Giovanni Rotondo who does an amazing job handling the tone and pacing of the narrative in a score that is both beautiful and haunting.

Rotondo has had some experience working on scores such as Spider-Man 3 as a music editor and Calvary as an orchestrator. Even though his filmography is short, this score’s deceptively simple structure shows his ability to craft music to tell a story. The use of the guitar and strings remind me of Gustavo Santaolalla, and the score crafts this fractured portrait of our characters. Vocals are used to add a sense of humanity and the first act becomes this beautiful yet sad look into the characters. As the narrative progresses things get a bit darker and the score never goes overboard with crafting tension. The use of ambience and dissonance work terrifically here, especially with the muted color palette of the cinematography. The score comes back up from the dissonant darkness to sort of reprise the guitar and vocals for an emotional resolution. The music has some issues with flow as it moves from character-focused melodic material into the plot-focused ambient stuff then back, but this seems like the director not wanting to saturate the film with score. Personally, I think more music would have helped but as it stands this is still a strong effort.

Orphans & Kingdoms is a great small score to a small film that you probably never heard of. It’s worth discovering simply because this doesn’t feel like an amateur at the helm. Giovanni Rotondo has demonstrated restraint when the score needed to be restrained and then let the melodic material take over when it was appropriate to turn the focus from the plot back to the characters. The score has a voice and it gives the characters a voice as well. This small treat is worth your time.