Marcelo Zarvos

Sin Nombre [Original Motion Picture Score]

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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

Brazilian-born composer Marcelo Zarvos has ascended to full-time movie work in the first decade of the 21st century by displaying versatility, going from the 2002 comedy Kissing Jessica Stein to the quirky 2004 film The Door in the Floor; moving in 2006 from the neo-film noir Hollywoodland to the sprawling spy saga The Good Shepherd (with Bruce Fowler); taking on the dramedies You Kill Me in 2007 and What Just Happened in 2008; and working on the war drama Taking Chance already in 2009, among other projects. Writer/director Cary Joji Fukunaga's Sin Nombre, a tale about a Latin American's immigration journey to the U.S. from Honduras, returns Zarvos to his native continent and allows him to combine indigenous folk music with a symphonic orchestra. Indeed, that interaction seems to be the point of his score. Traditional South American folk instruments often carry the cues in the foreground, but they are accompanied -- one might say threatened -- by the dark, deep sounds of the strings in the orchestra, just as the characters in the film make their perilous trip, endangered by forces of authority and natural challenges of geography, heading north from country to country. Sometimes the folk instruments are heard clearly, and at other times they are drowned out by the overpowering and ominous sounds of the orchestra. The overall effect is a sense of uncertainty within an epic adventure, which parallels the story of the film.

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