Raphael Beau and Max Steiner Micmacs a tire-larigot Review

Released 2010.  

BBC Review

The work here only lends weight to Micmacs’ already impressive reputation.

Mike Diver 2010

When Jean-Pierre Jeunet is in the director’s chair, the audience always knows to expect the magical unfolding before them, for the screen to come alive with colourful characters and audacious designs. His lens onto the cinematic world is unique, and Micmacs is the latest in an impressive series of critically adored projects that began with 1991’s comical but unsettling Delicatessen. Even his contribution to the Alien series had a style unlike its preceding instalments (though the less said about what followed, the better).

It’s only right that the music appearing in his films is similarly singular in its construct, impossible to mistake for the aural accompaniment to the work of any other director. Raphael Beau’s score – interspersed with pieces composed by the late Max Steiner – is an invigorating, intriguing affair that flits from relaxed shuffle to furious flights with a grace that’s sure to see him attract both instant plaudits and significant offers of further work in the not-so-distant future. While it’s primarily jaunty in feel, the cascading piano keys of Moïdin Moïdin and distant strings of Droit De Cité stir a below-the-surface unease; this relationship, the balancing of elements enchanting and disturbing, is the beating heart at the centre of his often brief arrangements.

Jeunet, alongside head editor Hervé Schneid and music/art advisor Edouard Dubois, selected a variety of pieces by the Oscar-winning Steiner to sit beside the original material. Though Casablanca, Gone With the Wind and King Kong are among his credits, Steiner’s presence doesn’t overshadow the younger (read: alive; Steiner died in 1971) musician in the slightest, and glimpses of recognisable cues simply add texture to the whole, rather than comprise standouts.

It’s enchanting fare, throughout – Beau’s deliciously Gallic flavours stirred into a broth bubbling with drama courtesy of the late Austrian composer, belching brass and romantic strings complemented wonderfully by aching accordion and rumbling, tumbling percussion. With each frame of a Jeunet film a work of art in itself, anything less than at least a serviceable, quirkily charming score would have spoiled things. But Beau excels, his work here only lending weight to Micmacs’ already impressive reputation.

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