La Mission

Composed by: Mark Kilian

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Written and directed by Peter Bratt, La Mission stars brother Benjamin Bratt as Che Rivera, a reformed inmate and recovering alcoholic who has always survived the Mission District through toughness.  Raised to believe that to prove one’s masculinity you must show your strength through your physical prowess, Che has built a reputation for himself, earning the respect of the people through kindhearted actions as well as through brute strength and a propensity for violence.  His two loves: building low-rider cars and providing for his only son, Jess (Jeremy Ray Valdez).  But when a revelation by Jess threatens to destroy all he has ever known, Che must now learn what true masculinity is all about or lose the love of his only son forever.

            The musical score of La Mission was created by Mark Kilian, a South African composer.  Moving from South Africa to the United States in 1994 to pursue a career in film scoring in 1994, he enrolled in USC’s Film Scoring program and upon completion, was hired by film composer Christopher Young.  He later ventured to Venice where he composed music for numerous television commercials for companies such as Apple, Budweiser, American Express and Toyota.  Since 1997, Killian has added quite a few musical scores to his résumé, including Lovergirl, Traitor, Rendition, Before the Rains, Tsotsi and more.

            The music of La Mission is greatly steeped in the culture of the Mission District of San Francisco, reflecting the Latino and Native American influences in the area.  Accoring to Kilian, “I ventured deeper into the musical culture than what you hear walking around the mission district in San Francisco.  Rather than building the score out of the kinds of music and sounds that these characters listen to now, I went in deeper to include musical influences that came from their parents and grandparents.”  Thus the movie soundtrack is rich with guitars, maracas and Latino vocals reflecting the earlier cultural influences of the neighborhood, until you get to the last track. There you will find William DeVaughn’s Be Thankful for What You Got. This 70’s R&B track reminds us that we may not have much in the material sense and yet we can still stand tall and take pride in ourselves, being thankful for all that we do have. This song sends a perfect message - the meaning, in fact, of the whole movie in a nutshell.

            I found the musical score of La Mission to be at once a celebration of culture and a reflection of the main character’s mental and emotional transformation.  At times filled with sorrow and at other times upbeat and joyous, the La Mission Soundtrack perfectly represents a man going through a tremendous and emotional upheaval, relearning all he once held sacred for the love of his son.  The beauty of the soundtrack is undeniable and Mark Kilian truly did his homework in an effort to adequately represent both the main character’s struggles and the district in which the characters live.  La Mission is a beautiful soundtrack well-worth the listen.


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