Original Review by Alan Rogers (First uploaded at maintitles.net)

In the low budget indie film Wonderful World, Matthew Broderick plays Ben Singer, a grump of a guy constantly outraged with everything around him, who spends most of his time smoking pot and arguing with his neighbours. His mood softens only in the company of his Senegalese room-mate and chess partner, Ibu. But when Ibu is taken ill and ends up in hospital, it is left to Ibu’s cheerful sister, Khadi, to try and improve Ben’s outlook on life. With Broderick’s character’s miserable outlook and the film’s somewhat slow pace, critics have focused on by how much the film is enlivened by the soundtrack. However, on the basis of Lakeshore Records’ release of Craig Richey’s small-ensemble score, these critics must be talking about the songs used rather than this score.

Craig Richey, whose main projects to date have been scores for short films and documentaries, has probably been heard by a great many people as it was he who composed the music featured in the Ford Motor Company’s advert featuring car parts as orchestral instruments. For Joshua Goldin’s first feature, Richey has taken a few staple (conventional) instruments of the low-budget film (piano, guitar and a small group of strings, etc) to fashion a score that very much reflects the dour, miserable feel of the film itself: a great support for the film but not so great for listening to away from the images. Richey talks about the film having a “wonderful sense of magic”, being “mixed with a sense of whimsy, melancholy, humor and a tender heart” but, in the main, all I get is the melancholy. The “Main Title” starts everything off relatively up-tempo though, with a jaunty melody that includes the use of the African kalimba (a “thumb piano”). But it is not long before the mood darkens in the subsequent tracks. The composer decided not to have any music that was influenced by the music of Senegal, but rather only use a few African instruments (such as the kalimba and the kora (a West African harp)) to add a “unique flavour”. The use of these instruments is welcome and tends to coincide with the few quicker-paced tracks – “Khadi Buys Shoes”, “Out of Gas” and “It Rains Fish” – possibly reflecting the positive influence of Khadi is having on Ben. 

With a lot of independent films that rely on small groups of musicians to convey the ideas of the composer and support the mood of the film, the music does tend to be closely linked with the visuals. Listening to the music separate from the image can, therefore, be a less than satisfying experience. I feel that this is the case here with Richey’s score. The music itself is not “bad” nor is it “unlistenable”. It is a competent score that does have some nice highlights and showcases the composer’s abilities. I’m just not sure many people will be able to connect with it without having some sort of prior connection with the film.

Rating: **½

  1. Main Title (1:57)
  2. Ben Meets “The Man” (2:20)
  3. Ibu Lies In The Street (2:07)
  4. Ben Finds Khadi’s Picture (1:42)
  5. Ben Gets Fired (1:34)
  6. My Name Is Khadi (0:39)
  7. Khadi Buys Shoes (1:04)
  8. Sandra At The Window (1:02)
  9. Ben Makes A U-Turn (0:40)
  10. Khadi’s Ritual (2:54)
  11. Ben & Khadi’s Kiss (0:51)
  12. Ben Confronts His Ex (2:07)
  13. Out of Gas (0:51)
  14. You Wore Her Out (1:29)
  15. I Am Greedy (1:53)
  16. Ben’s Closing Argument (1:43)
  17. The Note (0:20)
  18. A False Accusation (2:07)
  19. Ibu Dies (2:00)
  20. Goodbye Khadi (1:58)
  21. It Rains Fish (2:42)
  22. What About “The Man” (1:21)

Running Time: 35:20

Lakeshore Records (2011)

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