Composed By: Benjamin Wallfisch
Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
It was supposed to be one of the happiest days in his life - the birth of his daughter - but when Nolan Hayes (Paul Walker) arrived at a New Orleans hospital with his wife Abigail (Genesis Rodriguez), his entire life was turned upside down. Forced to deal with the loss of his wife in childbirth and the difficulties presented by the early birth of his daughter, Nolan was already having trouble accepting his new life. And that was before Hurricane Katrina hit and the levees broke, causing serious damage to the hospital. Unable to leave his newborn child who is on a ventilator, power outages, rising floodwaters and looters are just some of the dangers Nolan must face while trying to keep his last link to his wife alive.
The musical score of the Lionsgate dramatic thriller, Hours, was created by British composer Benjamin Wallfisch. A classically trained composer, Wallfisch made his scoring debut in 2005 with Dear Wendy, earning a Discovery of the Year and Best Original Score nomination. Since then, he has created musical scores for such notable films as Summer in February, The Escapist, Hammer of the Gods, The Thirteenth Tale, Conquest 1453 and more. He has also worked as orchestrators on a number of films, including V for Vendetta, Atonement, Anna Karenina, Eat Pray Love and more.
The musical score for the Hours serves as another character in the film. Hours features one main character - Nolan Hayes. The entire movie revolves around him and he is often alone. As writer/director Eric Heisserer explains in the liner notes in the album, it's easy for a storyteller to create subtext when there is more than one character in a film. But when there is only one, subtext can be quite a challenge. Enter the musical score which sort of stands in to create subtext during scenes when dialogue is absent.
Consider Bad Battery - the mix of electronic and orchestral score grows with intensity and urgency as Nolan realizes that the only thing keeping his daughter's ventilator going is a faulty battery. Each painful crank of that battery's charger means only seconds of charge to keep the ventilator going. As the track ends, the music becomes quite sad, suggesting a sense of futility and hopelessness. Then there are moments like The Story of You, in which pianos and strings tell the tale of a love lost in Abigail and a new love found in their child.
The music of Hours reflects the mood and intensity of the situation Nolan finds himself in - the hectic and fast-paced moments in which Nolan rushes his wife into the hospital, the shock of learning about the birth, the despair at losing his wife, the need to keep that last link to his wife alive and all that Nolan is willing to do to preserve that last link. At times the music provides intense action-like sound and at other times is deeply dramatic. Kudos to Benjamin Wallfisch! The Hours Soundtrack is an excellent stand alone album and, I have no doubt, is an excellent accompaniment to this dramatically emotional film.