While attending the 38th Toronto International Film Festival, Trevor Hogg had the opportunity to chat with Marcelo Zarvos about composing the musical scores for Enough Said and The Face of Love…
“Enough Said  is a romantic comedy and the music is a much smaller instrumentation and the core of the music is piano, guitar, and a little percussion,” states Marcelo Zarvos (Brooklyn’s Finest). “We had some orchestral pieces later in the film for some emotional moments that happen.” It was important for musical score not to be overpowering. “The dialogue is fantastic and you have amazing actors who are delivering those lines.” The Brazilian composer notes, “You’re laughing at the characters because they exist; that’s my favourite type of comedy to work on because I feel that the music doesn’t have to be pandering for laughs. It’s more accentuating and pointing out that this is a bizarre situation you may have been in before.” The film directed and written by Nicole Holofcener (Friends with Money) features the last big screen appearance of the male lead who had a fatal heart attack. “There was a scene which was challenging in the end when the couple played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus [Deconstructing Harry] and James Gandolfini [Get Shorty] are having a fight. It was difficult to find the right tone because up until that point the movie has been mostly a comedy. You have to carefully and gently place the music in order to deliver the tears.”
“The Face of Love  is a dramatic romantic movie with a strong thriller undercurrent,” remarks Marcelo Zarvos. “The director [Arie Posin] wanted a traditional score meaning a strong melody.” The music had to be memorable, emotional, and be able to capture the sense of sorrow, drama and romance. “I knew that this was going to be a classical sounding score. We want to Prague and recorded with an orchestra. It was dramatic. The music has a large presence in the film and goes deep into the characters.” The orchestral score for the movie starring Annette Bening (American Beauty), Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting), and Ed Harris (A Beautiful Mind) includes a lot of strings, piano, and woodwinds such as flute, clarinet and English horn. “We decided for the first month weren’t going to look at anything with pictures. I would play for Arie many things and he’d say, ‘I like this. I don’t like that.’ We honed it in until he said, ‘This is it. This is our theme.’ Then we proceeded to go to the picture.” The musical score has a prominent presence in the dramatic conclusion. “Practically the last 10 minutes of the film is wall to wall music with little dialogue so the challenge was to deliver emotionally for 10 minutes.”
“With Enough Said it was fast but I had also worked before with Nichole’s last film Please Give so we had a shorthand and I had more of an idea,” explains Marcelo Zarvos. “It was great. I got down to business. With The Face of Love we talked a lot about certain films that the director loved and I went back to those films to listen to the scores not because Arie wanted something like that but there were elements of that he was drawn to. We talked a lot about the Three Colours Trilogy, Red , White  and Blue , by Krzysztof Kieslowski. Blue in particular was a movie and a story that he loved. Arie loved Zbigniew Preisner [At Play in the Fields of the Lord] who was the composer of those scores. We talked a lot about [Stanley] Kubrick particularly Barry Lyndon . I love Kubrick’s scores and they’re in my head all the time. You talk about certain projects and scenes from films. Arie is articulate and smart; he has studied film and knows a lot about it. We talked a lot about the history of cinema. Arie wanted a more European flavour to the score even though it takes place in Los Angeles and has all American actors.” Zarvos observes, “Film is a fascinating. You would be hard press to find someone who doesn’t like film of some kind of another but the way music works is mysterious. Music doesn’t become less mysterious. Why it works? How it works? That brings me a lot of satisfaction to my own work.”
Many thanks to Marcelo Zarvos for taking the time for this interview and make sure to visit his official website as well as his Composure profile.
Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada.