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The Cobbler by John Debney & Nick Urata (Review)

posted Mar 3, 2015, 3:18 PM by Kaya Savas

Both John Debney and Nick Urata are great composers in their own right. John has been doing great work on TV recently, while Nick has been giving us stylistic character-based gems for years now. If you haven’t seen Paddington, check out Nick’s score for it as it’s wonderful. The unlikely combination here ends up working great. While The Cobbler as a film is a bit of a mess, it did leave some room for a unique score. Director Tom McCarthy has never been known to focus largely on music in his films, but I loved The Station Agent and I loved The Visitor. The Cobbler attempts to be something special, but mixes a bit too much of screwball antics and loses its magic. The story is about a shoe cobbler who ends up finding a magic cobbling machine that allows him to turn into the person who owns the shoes if he wears them. So yeah, it goes down that road. The score though is something rather delightful.

Debney and Urata didn’t work together in terms of scoring the same tracks. The tracks are credited to the two composers separately throughout the album, but they blend very well in terms of style. The music has a bit of an eastern European polka vibe to it, and it immediately paints a wonderful style and window into the character. The music is very much in the same vein as the music of the Roma, which Hans Zimmer utilized for his Sherlock Holmes scores. The music never wears itself out stylistically, and it’s great that there are some more traditionally instrumented pieces that weave through. The score loses its steam when it abandons the musical stylings it stuck with for most of the narrative in the final act. The music in the last 20min or so just feels out of place, and it loses any charm or quirk that was carried up to it. It also feels like it ends on a whimper rather than something more emotionally compelling.

The Cobbler has lots of potential and the music for the first two acts are quite wonderful. However, the music takes a strange stylistic change in the final act and the magic and charm of the character embedded in the music is lost. Luckily that really only happens right at the end, so there is still plenty to enjoy musically from the talents of both these composers. The score has plenty of character and warmth with such a unique sound that it’s hard to pass up despite the lackluster finish. It seems the score fell victim to the film’s strange pacing and execution, but that’s no reason to skip over this little treat.