Marcelo Zarvos has an innate ability to hone in on deep and strong emotions through his scores. The scores that I love from him are the ones that do this is in a very smooth yet precise fashion. Surprisingly, his score for Won’t Back Down is quite bold, but in a good way. The movie is about two mothers who take charge and try and change ways at a failing inner city school. They have to overcome opposing parents, the school board and the teachers union. So, yes this is pretty much a social activist picture. It’s gonna teach you a lesson and give you a point of view with a melodramatic story. The thing with these social issue flicks is that usually the score is a schmaltzy and overly saturated mess. While Zarvos’ score has hints of melodrama and forced emotion, it is no where near the territory of other scores in this sub-genre and succeeds on many levels.
The score has a bold central theme that is ripe with inspiration and it has this fluttering upwards motif that cements the score as a whole. I really love the theme especially since the score relies so heavily on it. For the first half the music does do an exceptional job of pulling you into the narrative. The emotion plays very well and you can’t resist it since Zarvos does such a great job of orchestrating the flow of the music. Everything feels upbeat and you have a warm feeling deep within you while listening to it. The music feels clear and free up till we start getting into the main struggle of the film’s characters. The music then tries to make the melodrama in the movie work. I could feel the overacting and the forced emotion resonate through the music, and that’s something I don’t blame on Marcelo. It isn’t heavy-handed, but you can feel the movie driving the score in certain places. By the end we are able to return to what made the first two thirds of the score so enjoyable.
Won’t Back Down is a score that is extremely effective in its approach and successful in its emotional resonance. The score won’t affect you deeply but it has such likable characteristics that I know I will revisit it again in the future. Earlier this year Marcelo Zarvos scored The Words and that was a much stronger score. The melodrama and forced emotion in certain parts is what holds this score back slightly, and I stress slightly. Any fan of Zarvos’ work should check this score out as it will definitely be a worthwhile listen. I enjoyed it and was impressed with how Zarvos managed to make an organic feeling score for such a formulaic story.
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