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Unrest by Bear McCreary (Review)

posted Oct 19, 2017, 7:14 PM by Kaya Savas

Unrest is a documentary starring and directed by Jennifer Brea as she documents her struggle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Jennifer was a PhD student at Harvard when she was struck with a high fever that left her with symptoms that left her bedridden and unable to function. After being dismissed by doctors as just stressed or dehydrated, she reached out to other CFS sufferers around the world and began to document their journeys as they coped with their lives. The film is so intimate and so personal that it required an equally intimate approach to the music. Bear McCreary showcases one of his many sides as a storyteller here in providing a perfect musical portrait for Jennifer.

It’s rare to find a documentary directed by its subject, but that is what Unrest is. Jennifer Brea is the subject of this story, this is her life and her will to document and tell it. What the music does brilliantly is that it brings us into Jennifer’s world. We get this very personable opening track that introduces us to Jennifer and her husband, Omar. After that we are immediately plunged into Jennifer’s CFS world. Take track 3, which literally puts the audience into an MRI machine and makes us feel the chaos and uncertainty. Other tracks like “Jessica” and “Lee-Ray” are all different portraits of people that Jennifer meets through her journey, and it feels like we are meeting new people for the first time as well. What follows is a story that showcases moments of strength and moments of absolute weakness. Bear absolutely finds the heartbeat and emotional center of this documentary with a very simple and effective approach. The score feels of the people we are watching, it feels born of them. The music allows the audience to share in the pain and victory of Jessica and the others in the documentary, and that’s no small feat.

Unrest is a beautiful score to a beautiful film. Filmmaking should always be the exploration of the human condition, and Unrest is a shining example of that. The music never feels like an outside voice commenting on what we’re watching, rather it feels born of Jessica and her life along with the other people we meet in the documentary. This simple yet effective score is so organic and so natural that you can’t help but hear and feel what it’s communicating. This is a small and real treasure from Bear McCreary.