When you have two films about communication and human connections, it’s a pretty smart idea to hire twins to write the music. Brothers Bryce and Aaron Dessner have been swapping twins since they were born 45 years ago, and they have been making music for almost as much – professionally for two decades with their band National.
However, “Come on, come on” and “Cyrano” could hardly be more different. One is a low-key black-and-white drama in which Joaquin Phoenix stars as a melancholic reporter linked to his nephew. Another is a full-fledged musical based on the famous French story by Cyrano de Bergerac with Peter Dinklage in the title role as a “loser” with an eloquent pen and unrequited love for a girl named Roxanne.
However, deep down, both films are about characters who try and often fail to find each other, and, as Bryce Dessner put it, “people just try to say what they feel.”
End of the year “Cyrano” is definitely more ambitious. Written by Erica Schmidt, Dinklage’s 16-year-old wife, the musical was conceived in 2018 for a stage workshop in Connecticut before moving off Broadway. In both iterations, Hayley Bennett as Roxanne and Dinklage as Cyrano replaced the comically long nose with an actor’s dwarfism as the centerpiece of the plot.
The songs have been created over the years, and for the film adaptation of director Joe Wright, the Dessner brothers radically revised the original songbook, adding several numbers and composing completely new music that weaves everything together.
“One of the problems I have with musicals in general,” Wright said, “you have a dramatic scene, you walk together, you feel good, you feel safe – and then suddenly a song comes out of the song. nowhere. And it can be confusing when your characters start singing and behave very strange – they might even dance. “
To solve this problem, Wright wanted the score “to create a kind of smooth transition from drama to musical sequences. So a lot of the music takes elements from the songs and then develops them, so while sometimes they are not entirely recognizable, there is a kind of language that allows the audience to move from song to drama in a way that they are not. t sharp. “
Cyrano is like a musical river. Combined with the fluid, danceable movement of Wright’s camera, the audience captures and carries away one song and instrumental piece after another, rapidly overcoming Roxanne’s need for “waves of desire” and Cyrano’s love for her that is so desperate that he is “barely breathing.” … “
This is an apt analogy, Wright said, “because it is also an experience of falling in love.”
The songs are organically combined with the instrumental score, which is in harmony with repetitive patterns, broken waltzes and echoes of the song’s melodies. Classically trained Bryce Dessner provided elegant orchestral minimalism, while Aaron delivered folk song quality and contemporary production.
At the end of the film, three soldiers sing about loved ones they are about to leave behind, one played by Once star Glen Hansard, the other by violinist Sam Amidon. Wright wanted the score to continue underneath the dialogue stage, with Aaron Dessner improvising a piece that deconstructed the song’s melody down to its skeleton before it slowly recovered and blossomed again.
The director’s overall goal was to “focus every element of the film on this experience of falling in love. And I think somehow Bryce and Aaron have an amazing connection to that part of themselves. Their music is so gentle and filled with such a sincere heart that it seems incredibly connected to this place that falls in love. “
While Cyrano wears a heart on its sleeve, director Mike Mills has shunned big emotions like the plague for the recent release of Come On, It’s “like he’s skiing in slalom,” Bryce Dessner said. making our way through them. ” overly sentimental moments. “
“We’re kidding,” Aaron added, “he’s like this punk rocker who, whenever there is a flash of emotion, he wants to destroy him. That is why real music ended up in this very impressionistic, experimental world, where it can really be read from both sides. “
At first, Mills, who produced The National’s latest album, wanted the soundtrack only for editing, in which radio journalist Phoenix interviews real children across the country about the future. Aaron discovered in his old Korg MS-20 synthesizer an interesting sound, similar to the slowly losing pitch of woodwind instruments.
“We built these chords for a lot of things using it,” Aaron said. “It might be this emotional chord progression, but since it feels like tuning out, it kind of went along the line for Mike. So it was a big breakthrough. “
The role of the score has expanded over time, creating a kind of dreamy atmosphere for this very human story. For the scene, after an important moment between his uncle and nephew, Mills even asked for more positive emotions – “a glimmer of hope.”
If Cyrano’s music is a stormy river of emotions, Bryce suggested, “Come on, come on” is a calm ocean.
“It’s like the movie is the boat and the music is the water it sways on.”