In his motion picture soundtracks, Robert Marcel Lepage expands the emotional reach of the images. In his recent soundtrack albums he has worked the opposite way, dragging sound elements of the film and sequencing the tracks in order to present a self-contained work that encapsulates the movie. His soundtrack for Bernard Émond's film 20h17 Rue Darling achieves a new level of integration. He was helped by the film's structure: The main character narrates the story off camera. His soliloquy has been embedded in the album's tracks, delivering the context and progression of the atmosphere to fit the music (instead of the other way around). Gérard is an alcoholic who loves Beethoven. After surviving (thanks to an untied shoe) the explosion of his apartment building, he starts drinking again, awaiting the death he had missed. Actor Luc Picard delivers the text in a soft, placid voice that contrasts with the romantic music. Lepage's score twirls around a few Beethoven themes, using piano, glass organ (its haunting tones providing the album's most characteristic colors), and string quartet. Starting from the simplicity of the melodies, he has embroidered arrangements that delicately move away from orthodox harmony, taking listeners somewhere else for a moment, like drifting over Gérard's thoughts before coming back to the Beethoven anchor point. The whole script is there, in the music, easy to grasp, to a point where the listener doesn't even feel the need to see the movie -- although you won't feel that way if you don't understand French.
AllMusic Review by François Couture