Original Review by Alan RogersAnatomy of a Love Seen

How a relationship, where two people seem to love each other so deeply, can ultimately fail is a question that is explored in Marina Rice Bader’s 2014 film, Anatomy of A Love Seen. Leading actresses Zoe (Sharon Hinnendael) and Mal (Jill Evyn) fall in love while filming a love scene and what follows is a six-month whirlwind love affair. Unfortunately for them both, the relationship comes to a turbulent end when Mal leaves without explanation. However, things are complicated when, soon after the split, the two women must re-shoot the love scene in order to secure a broadcast deal for the movie.

The score is written by UK-based composer Thom Robson, whose resumé includes a number of award-winning short films (Sit In Silence, Carriages), several feature films (including Strings) and the video game, Morphopolis. Reading reviews on the film, it’s clear that Anatomy of A Love Seen focuses on the changes in the state of the protagonists’ relationship rather than being a plot-drive drama. And from listening to the score, it’s clear that Robson’s score serves as a tonal backdrop to the women’s attempts to try and negotiate through the situation they find themselves in. Sustained synth tones and synth strings dominate much of the score, with electric and acoustic guitars chords, keyboard ostinato patterns and piano chords adding slightly different musical colours and providing some subtle variations. A choice of score that seems to support Zoe and Mal’s emotional state resulting from their tortuous separation: the music gives the film a level of detachment and emotional neutrality between the women despite the feelings they may have deeper down.

The opening six-minute cue “The Love Scene” is a key early moment in the score. It opens with several of the musical devices mentioned above. But here, the sustained synth tones and hesitant keyboards highlight the women’s lack of acquaintance rather than the fallout of their failed relationship. As this track progresses, their relationship blossoms and is reflected in Robson’s music with the appearance of soft, wordless female voices. By the end of the cue, Zoe and Mal’s attraction is reflected by the appearance of a tender melody played on solo strings. Knowing the general storyline of the movie, it’s clear, musically, that this solo string melody is what the listener needs to listen out for later, acting as an indicator of whether Zoe and Mal will be able to recapture what they once had.

It’s not until tracks 7 and 8, “Back Together” and “Re-Shooting The Love Scene (Part 1)”, that we begin to hear subtle references on piano to the melody heard in “The Love Scene”. Is it a memory that’s being recalled or is there some level of latent longing for what they had before that may be rekindled (from either or both of the women)? Robson does a good job of using fragments of previous melodies and motifs as subtle pointers to the emotions of the women. By “Re-Shooting The Love Scene (Part 2)”, electric guitar and keyboards confidently play in unison suggesting that there has been a re-connection between them both. But this melody appears to be an alternative tune compared with the one heard in “The Love Scene”. The original “Love Scene” melody is heard in its full emotional strength (on solo strings once again) in the penultimate cue, “Slow Dance”. But the implied “happy ending” is tempered by a return in the final track (“Problem With Love”) to the hesitant and distant keyboard chords and synth tones associated with the couple once their relationship collapsed. Perhaps the damage runs too deep for things to be mended?

Thom Robson does a good job at portraying the various aspects of the relationship between the two women: the initial spark and development of their relationship in the opening cue, the emotional “wasteland” resulting from the break-up and the possible re-kindling of the women’s feelings for one another. Assuming I’ve read the ideas behind the score correctly! Although there’s a significant portion of the score that is perhaps a bit uninteresting (repeating chords, sustained tones, etc), these cues (or at least some of them) need to be present in order to juxtapose with the potential re-discovery of Zoe and Mal’s feelings for one another. Anatomy of A Love Seen is a score that’s clear in its goal of mirroring the emotional path of these two women but, even with a relatively short running time (25 minutes), it does seem a bit long and that’s due primarily to the middle portion of the album. One final issue worth mentioning is the conclusion of the final track, “Problem With Love”. The album suddenly comes to an end and it seems to be an issue with the track ending prematurely. It could also be an artistic decision on the part of those who put the album together. If it is the latter then it’s a bit too jarring for it to have been a wise decision.

Anatomy of a Love Seen is available from most online digital stores and audio clips.

Added note: Although placed at the beginning of the album, “The Love Scene” actually occurs at the end of the movie as a flashback. In this scene, Zoe and Mal are “in love” and score refinds the theme(s) contained in this cue as they attempt to rekindle their relationship. Thanks to composer, Thom Robson, for the additional information.

Rating: **

  1. The Love Scene (6:05)
  2. Zoe In Makeup (1:26)
  3. Kara and Zoe (0:43)
  4. Magical Ann (0:43)
  5. Waiting (1:16)
  6. First Sight (0:43)
  7. Back Together (2:19)
  8. Re-Shooting The Love Scene (Part 1) (1:14)
  9. Exploring Love (2:30)
  10. Mal Alone (0:31)
  11. Re-Shooting The Love Scene (Part 2) (2:52)
  12. Slow Dance (1:05)
  13. Problem With Love (3:42)

Running Time: 25:15

Underdale Records (2014)

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