On the Graceful Work of Composer Emile Mosseri | Features


Soon after, Mosseri was able to bring his considerable talent to the second season of Amazon’s TV drama “Homecoming,” where he built not only on his voice from “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” but also several famous score cues that director Sam Esmail had insisted on for the first season. Mosseri’s work was lauded in keeping a Hollywood sound that was fully his own work, but which matched music by Bernard Herrmann and Michael Small from films such as “Vertigo” and “Klute.”

Subsequently, Miranda July’s “Kajillionaire” presented a different challenge for Mosseri, in having to deal with material that was more comedic and irreverent. From this, he created a bright and melodic score that has an infectious “love theme” at the center of it, with a piano riff and female vocal that makes it sound like a Nino Rota piece. Mosseri here really digs into his vocals, as soprano Theodosia Roussos hits some stunning high notes. But Mosseri also uses her vocals as a bed for a more melancholy setting, as Evan Rachel Wood’s character Old Dolio realizes the disconnection between her and her parents.

This comes to a head over their inability to call her “Hon,” and Mosseri scores it with a glowing cue that builds and builds until it comes to an emotional climax as she leaves, followed by an exceptional piano cue as her view on life changes after an earthquake. Mosseri is terrific at writing these life-affirming pieces that work like hyper-efficient machines in conveying emotional truth while not feeling too much, or too obvious. While the film plays out somewhat episodically, the score helps “Kajillionaire” greatly cohere into a whole.

With “Minari,” Mosseri’s talent feels like it has evolved to a new level. The picture is all about struggles: the struggles of building a new home, of making a business, and of maintaining a relationship. And yet Mosseri has scored Chung’s film with beauty, tenderness, and a touch of idiosyncrasy. The score opens and closes with the same theme in different settings, and it washes over you, with this heavenly lullaby vocal and delicate piano, and takes you into this bucolic world of nature. There’s an ethereal nature to it, just like the fragility of the American dream that Steven Yeun’s Jacob is clinging on to, something that isn’t tangible and can disappear in a whisper. Mosseri scores Jacob’s dream in the beginning as if it were just that, and that Jacob is trying to interpret to Monica (Yeri Han) and his family what he can see in his head, with frustratingly limited results. But we can hear what is in there, a gorgeously serene cue for strings as intoxicating as the dream itself.

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