Reaching for the Moon

Composed By: Marcelo Zarvos

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                A biographical drama, Reaching for the Moon stars Miranda Otto as American poet Elizabeth Bishop who, suffering from writer's block in the 1950s, travels to Rio de Janeiro to visit with an old college friend (Tracy Middendorf) in hopes of finding some inspiration for her writing.  What she finds instead is an unexpected romance with Mary's bohemian partner, architect Lota de Macedo Soares (Glória Pires).  Surviving such emotional trials as alcoholism, distance and a military coup, their romance spans decades.

                The musical score of Reaching for the Moon was created by Brazilian composer Marcelo Zarvos.  Known for blending classical, orchestral, electronic and other styles of music together to create uniquely emotional musical scores, Zarvos began his career by training in classical music as a teenager in São Paulo.  He continued his musical studies at the Berklee College of Music, the California Institute of the Arts and Hunter College and was noticed in the year 2000 for his scores for Kissing Jessica Stein and The Door in the Floor. Since then, Zarvos has created a number of film scores, including The Good Shepherd, Brooklyn's Finest, Sin Nombre, Beastly and The Words, and for the television series Ray Donovan.

                Without having read the promotional material for Reaching for the Moon, I tried to figure out what the film was about through its score.  A good musical score tells the story of the film, enhancing the visuals and often inspiring an emotional reaction from the viewer.  What I heard was an orchestral score which featured guitars as a main theme for the character of Elizabeth Bishop.  Strings and woodwinds added dramatic effect to a score that was incredibly beautiful with a touch of sadness here and there and featured a dramatic ending track in The Art of Losing.

                I guessed that the film was an epic love story played out over a number of years, during which, some sort of military action or a war had taken place.  I almost got it right - I was incredibly close, wasn't I?  That's what Marcelo Zarvos does as a composer and an artist, he paints a portrait of the story of the film using music as his medium. 

                With the score of Reaching for the Moon, Zarvos achieves greatness as a composer, providing the listener with insights into the emotional rollercoaster ride of Elizabeth and Lota's romance, yet still creating a musical score that would survive perfectly as a stand alone album.  Congratulations, Mr. Zarvos, on a job well done!


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