The 9th Life of Louis Drax, was released in 2016. The movie, which was helmed by filmmaker Alexandre Aja, who also put his distinct, innovative directorial stamp upon movies such as The Hills Have Eyes, in 2006 and in 2013 directed Daniel Radcliffe in Horns. The film crosses over into various genres so is a difficult one to define into one specific category of film or story. It is however seen as more of a supernatural thriller than anything else. It stars Jamie Dornan, Sarah Gadon, Aiden Longworth, Oliver Platt, Molly Parker, Julian Wadham, Jane McGregor, Barbara Hershey, and Aaron Paul. It’s screenplay was the work of writer Max Minghella and based on Liz Jensen’s best-selling novel of the same title which was first published in 2004. The basic components of the plot focus upon and around Louis Drax, who is at the time of the films, opening a nine-year-old boy who suffers a near-fatal fall and is in a coma. The doctor responsible for his care Dr. Pascal is desperate to reveal the strange circumstances behind the young boy’s accident and dark coincidences that have plagued his entire life. And as a consequence of his ever-growing involvement is drawn into a thrilling mystery that explores the nature of the sixth sense, testing the boundaries of fantasy and reality.
The musical score is by Patrick Watson and is a work that I have to say I am sorry I missed which was issued on compact disc by Varese Sarabande in 2017.
It is a mesmerising soundtrack, and at times reminded me of the music for The Lady in White, being emotive, dramatic and mysterious. There is a wealth of rich and hauntingly affecting music within this score, the majority of which is symphonic by the sound of it, of course there are synthetic/electronic flourishes that enhance and support, but the main core of the work is conventional instrumentation and the electronics take a back seat for the majority of the duration. There are some delicate and enticing piano solos scattered throughout the score, that are richly melodic and filled with a poignancy and air of melancholy purveying a fragility and sense of solitude and vulnerability. The composer also fashions a waltz type composition that is immediately striking in the cue entitled The Red Dress, which is not only attractive but becomes ever more enticing as it builds. The music reflects perfectly the tones of the movies storyline moving from sections that convey light and airy auras that contain hints of comedy, into dark and sombre interludes that are at times foreboding and unsettling.
As I said in the opening of the article the film crosses into various genres, mixing tried and tested methods of storytelling because it is one minute a quirky and tantalising indie-film then alters direction and moves into a more family friendly tale, it can also be looked upon as being a fantasy filled with surreal and illusionary components and even has a detective element to it as the various parts of the plot start to come together, but I think at its heart this is a traditional psychological/horror thriller. But whatever genre you personally decide to put this into it remains an entertaining and more to the point an intriguing film. Composer Patrick Watson has taken all of these into consideration and created a score that is filled with rich textures and vivid musical colours. The use of voice or synth voice in a handful of the tracks is also affecting giving the score an otherworldly sound.
As well as being effective with the unfolding scenarios on screen and enhancing the movies sometimes complex storyline it is wonderfully enriching to listen to just as stand-alone music. The film is surprising, engaging and thought provoking. It is expressively powerful and impacting and uniquely entertaining. The music score too has all these attributes and more. A film and soundtrack to watch out for.