Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Soundtrack Review: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Soundtrack Rating: A
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World not only seemed like it had too bold of a premise to have a listenable soundtrack, but also seemed like it had too bold of a premise to be a watchable movie. Seeking a Friend is the apocalyptic movie every viewer has come to expect from 2012, but it has a huge twist.  Instead of having the apocalypse (in this case a seventy-mile wide asteroid) being the end of love, idealism, and conquest, Seeking a Friend makes the comet the reason for two people finding love, idealism, and going on their first real conquest.  Instead of the apocalyptic comet being the reason for the two main characters to give up, it is reason for them to live again.  Because of there approaching cataclysmic death, the two main characters finally find a reason to live.  Through death, they find life.

So instead of having the normal apocalypse movie where society is absolutely in ruins or having a movie that is totally about survival, we have a film that has the potential to tell us one of the most original, emotional, and compelling love stories of the 21st century.  But for a film with a premise this bold and original it needs to not only have good acting and storytelling, but also have a soundtrack that "fits" what it is trying to accomplish.  This only leaves us with one question: even if the acting and storytelling in this movie is perfect, what kind of music could possibly fit a movie this quirky?

Since no genre exists for post-apocalyptic survival love stories (maybe Explosions In The Sky,) I thought the people involved with Seeking a Friend were going to totally cop out and do a soundtrack full of Peter Brenner like dark, ominous, and draconian tunes.  But instead the producers decided to choose music from just about every genre, every decade, and every mood and place it into the movie at some critical point.  And even though this seems as bold as the film's premise, it actually enhances the movie instead of ruining it.  Every song on the album is perfectly placed: The Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice?" is used as the "we are on a getaway to the beach and falling in love!" song that it was predestined to be in just about every romantic movie, they have an instrumental by Rob Simonsen and Jonathan Sadoff called "Dodge Walks Home" for when Dodge (Steve Carrell) is walking home, and Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass's"This Guy Is In Love With You" is used when Dodge is contemplating his love for Penelope (Keira Knightley).

The soundtrack not only does the ultimate job as serving as a narrator for the blind, but every song on here fits the unique mood the movie is trying to create.  Carrell and Knightley desperately want everyone of their experiences together to seem like a brave new step into a romantic, desolate, and NEW world: they want every step they take on the beach together to seem like the first time their feet have touched wet sand, they want what is in actuality probably their 124234234242423 time driving an automobile to seem like the time they had to learn the difference between gas and break,  they want every time they eat together to seem like their first and last supper, and they want the saliva from every kiss to serve as a symbolic baptism that they will be born again in a new life.  Dodge and Knightley are experiencing illogical freedom because they are living the 21st century life like primitive cavemen and cavewomen, and every experience of routine life is more than routine, not only because they are together, but because the life they are living is suddenly against all odds.   The soundtrack, without forcing itself into the spotlight, does a great job of documenting every step of Dodge and Knightley sudden primitiveness.   The soundtrack is one that ends up doing a great job of making not only a wretched situation beautiful, but it makes us kind of want to be in Dodge and Penelope's comet covered shoes, it makes us want to live life with the primitive curiosity of someone who might die soon.

To describe Seeking A Friend's soundtrack as good would be a drastic understatement: it is a soundtrack that is diverse, free-flowing, documentation, and a soundtrack so powerful that it makes us want to experience a world that is about to get hit by a comet.  In a perfect symbol of the soundtracks power, the movie ends with Dodge and Penelope holding hands while "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)" by the Walker Brothers plays on a record player in the background.  This moment which should be depressing, only produced tears of joy throughout my theatre where I was watching the film.  That is because we knew that even though the sun was going down on Dodge and Penelope's life together, the sun was somehow brought into it by the idea of a cataclysmic apocalypse.  The song and the moment do a perfect job of summarizing the contradictive reality that defines the entire movie, the contrast in finding life in death and finding sunlight in pitch black darkness.  As the screen fades to the black the characters are now living in, the music makes us want to experience the sunlight of their blackness.  And that is the thing that is most powerful about Seeking A Friend's soundtrack: it is a soundtrack that not only sounds good, beautiful, and pure, but it is a soundtrack that makes darkness seem like sunlight and death seem like life.  And that is something beyond powerful; it is something borderline spiritual.


1. The Beach Boys - Wouldn't It Be Nice
2. INXS - Devil Inside
3. French Kicks - Sex Tourists
4. Frank Black - In The Time of My Ruin
5. PM Dawn - Set Adrift On Memory Bliss
6. The Walker Brothers - The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore
7. The Hollies - The Air That I Breathe
 8. Wang Chung - Dance Hall Days
9. Scissor Sisters - OOh
10. Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass - This Guy's In Love With You
11. The Walker Brothers - Stay With Me Baby
12. Rob Simonsen & Jonathan Sadoff - Dodge Walks Home/The Beach

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