Review Summary: Disquiet.
There's something uniquely affecting about film scores. They’re one form of media interpreting another, so they reside in a distinct sort of dualistic existence. It’s a category of music that captures the many moments the film reel contributes, and yet, that very film reel can paint a new purpose onto its score, an exact context that makes it so much more appreciable. In essence, that’s how I judge a good film score: does it emotionally drag me in its clutches with its accompanying movie's aid, and furthermore, can it be as poignant on its own? Can I hear the music from this movie without being overtly familiar with its cinematic origins- and still
be able to imagine the things the filmmaker wants me to? The images my mind conjures will be indistinct, trapped in a constricting and pervasive fog, but if this music is done right I’ll at least feel something
along the lines what the film’s originator originally set out for me to feel.
I approached Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds’ Another Happy Day
score with these makeshift standards in mind. After all, it’s interesting to think about music made for film in this way, by yanking it from the backdrop and planting it in the spotlight. While the only knowledge I have about this movie is the titles of these songs, they provide a vital context. While songs like “The Wait,” “Alice Enters” and “Everything Must Change” come across as being about turmoils between loved ones, I could be entirely wrong. The beautiful thing is that it’s a little irrelevant, because these are the images that Arnalds’ score provokes. In each silence, I don’t hear anything resembling peace- instead, the unnerving pauses in conversation between grieving siblings. I hear the things nobody really wants to say, but that with time, can define someone’s existence.
This score is all about emotional disquiet, and Arnalds highlights that with a wide breadth of instrumentation. Some songs sport mournful violins, while others showcase maudlin pianowork- and yet, no matter which way the Icelandic composer decides to drive his point home, it comes across loud and clear. It’s bleak music for the anxious, which, for better or worse, means that this collection of songs can be a bit bare on their own. I have no doubts that Another Better Day
utilizes these tunes well as a means to a tumultuous end, but as an end themselves? Well, they're a bit too unobtrusive for their own good- as many a film score is wont to be. But even though Arnalds’ score for Another Happy Day
is better at propping up its accompanying film instead of standing on its own two feet, it reminds me of what music brings to cinema. It gives voice to that which can’t be stated; it tends to the ideas the film reel can't cultivate on its own.