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La Ligne Droite
Composed, Orchestrated, and Conducted by:
Patrick Doyle

Produced by:
Maggie Rodford

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
March 8th, 2011

Also See:
Much Ado About Nothing

Audio Clips:
2. Stadium Memories (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

13. Yannick Falls Overboard (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

17. Triple Training (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

21. Yannick and Leila (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Download only release in America, though a CD was pressed commercially by Varèse Sarabande's European branch, Colosseum. Some of these CDs were sold for a brief time on Varèse's main American site.


La Ligne Droite
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Buy it... if you are partial towards the melodic grace of Patrick Doyle and cyclical rhythms of Philip Glass, two trademark styles merged into this minimalistic but powerful score.

Avoid it... if you have absolutely no tolerance for somewhat repetitious chamber scores, though the ten performers who comprise most of this music accomplish the kind of narrative depth rarely heard in scores with ten times the number of performers.

La Ligne Droite (The Straight Line): (Patrick Doyle) A genuinely unexplored segment of the sporting world on film is blind running, a sport that requires its competitors to run alongside a guide and therefore be in perfect synchrony with that other runner. One such pairing is the focus of La Ligne Droite, a 2011 French film by acclaimed director Regis Wargnier. Obviously a topic of smaller scope than normal for the director, La Ligne Droite features a script of solely his writing that does indeed shed light on the obscure sport but dissolves into predictable romantic melodrama before long. A young hothead runner loses his eyesight in an accident but wishes to continue competing, and he ends up acquiring the help of a female guide whose checkered past includes criminal activity and family problems. The training sequences involving the male lead's adaptation to the concept of blind running have been praised, but criticized with equal disappointment has been Wargnier's rather bland handling of the on again/off again romance that inevitably develops. The French language film opened in the arthouse theatre circuit in its native country but didn't make it far beyond. In its limited English-language reviews at its debut, writers noted Patrick Doyle's score as being a very obvious (and potentially distracting) element of the film at times, dominating the race sequences with a forward mix. The composer's collaboration with Wargnier goes all the way back to the early years of his writing career, including strong dramatic music for Indochine, Une Femme Francaise, and Est-Ouest. After a period over two years from 2009 to 2010 with only one minor score to his name, Doyle entered 2011 poised to make a splash with Thor and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, very high profile productions that pressed the composer into learning current Hollywood blockbuster scoring techniques and adapting his own style to fit that necessary mould.

Undoubtedly, La Ligne Droite is about as far from Doyle's other 2011 projects as one could get in terms of expectations, though it should perhaps come as no surprise that when La Ligne Droite and Thor debuted at roughly the same time, the former was embraced as a work much more representative of Doyle's established style than the latter. Both are outstanding works on their own, and whereas Thor is largely considered Doyle's take on the Hans Zimmer/Remote Control influence in Hollywood, La Ligne Droite has been very commonly described as Doyle's take on the trademarks of Philip Glass. Regardless of its obvious references to Glass' unmistakable style, the score still manages to exude airy, rhythmic mannerisms that are as purely Doyle as Much Ado About Nothing. The only difference here is the surprising enunciation of that style. The budget for La Ligne Droite was limited, but Doyle insisted that a chamber ensemble would be best built to handle a story of this level of intimacy. He thus hired ten members of the London Symphony Orchestra to perform the spectrum of strings, a harp, and a piano (Doyle himself contributes one solo piano cue) and recorded them at very close distances to the microphone to enhance their size. A few of the fuller cues sound as though they may have been overdubbed, though an additional recording with the Hungarian Studio Orchestra is credited for the soundtrack and may have been used to beef up the soundscape with some extra strings instead. The emphasis on the performance, despite the fact that the majority of the duties fall on the shoulders of the various string players, is on the piano, the instrument playing a pivotal role in a wide spectrum of emotional applications that range from very slight rhythmic accents to rolling elegance reminiscent of Est-Ouest. The harp is unfortunately buried in the score's final mix, prominent in "Stealing a Car" but almost indistinguishable in "Leila's Past" and "Through the Tunnel." There is also a very, very slight accompaniment of cymbals, tapped in "Leila Runs Free" and "Stadium Memories" but either abandoned or lost in the mix thereafter.

Ultimately, this is a score for piano lovers, however, featuring performances of both grace and fierce rhythmic force. The sense of movement is something that Doyle clearly sought as a foundation of La Ligne Droite, almost every scene relating to the training, racing, or romance utilizing various pace-setting devices from the strings and piano. The composer is also, as usual, one of distinctive melodic inclination. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of La Ligne Droite, even exceeding the limitation of the recording to a double quartet, is the fact that the score is surprisingly monothematic. Doyle tends to write melodies for each concept or character in his scores, but this time he connects all of the facets of this story with a common set of underlying progressions of chords and specifically links the two leading characters together with a primary theme that exists in many guises but basically remains solid throughout the work. This consistency, combined with the perpetuate drama of a minor-key environment until the last few minutes of the score, is why La Ligne Droite will seem to be a bit of a redundant listening experience to some collectors on album. From a technical standpoint, however, Doyle accesses his common chord progressions and the two halves of the main theme in such a variety of ways, even with the small ensemble, that the score manages to remain fresh over its 40-minute running time on that product. While Doyle's theme for the pair of runners in La Ligne Droite may seem a simple representation on the surface, the deviation of its parts throughout the score is constantly rewarding. The album starts briskly with "Leila Runs Free," which immediately launches into the "A" phrase of the theme, five notes rising from and returning to key. The "B" phrase immediately follows and traverses upwards in similar fashion. Doyle sometimes blends these phrases into one fluid movement, but before taking that route, he begins a technique of duality in the score (logically for the reliance of the leads on each other) that causes both phrases of the theme to be repeated twice. Instead of simply doing this in basic John Barry style, Doyle uses different sets of strings to literally answer each other in the performances of the phrases.

Another technique that appropriately emphasizes duality in La Ligne Droite comes in the simple but very effective application of pairs of piano notes in the bass to denote gravity in several cues. These quickly paired notes are a common thread in the score, though Doyle brilliantly translates them into a series of lost, echoing repetitions in "Stadium Memories" with extremely impressive performance emphasis as the rhythm climbs the octaves in the latter half of that cue (and falls back to earth in the final bars). In both this cue and "Suspension Bridge," Doyle references the main theme by only utilizing its progressions, allowing for some elusive distrust built into the music. Reprising the rising nature and repeated piano notes in the base of "Stadium Memories," both "Training Breakthrough" and "Through the Tunnel" continue to use this sequence as a momentum-building tool. The evolution of the main theme sees a somber variant in "Seeing Her Son" which morphs into an optimistic form later in the score that dominates "Yannick and Leila" and likely addresses the straight romantic element of the plot. The beauty of this final cue is its unashamed, trademark Doyle sensibility, dropping all of the Glass-like rhythmic activity and even shifting into the major key for the piano in the last thirty seconds of resolution. Portions of this final posture for the main theme had been foreshadowed in the final minute of "Running in the Sand" and throughout "Triple Training." Most tellingly, as the score progresses, Doyle eventually deemphasizes the full statements of the five-note "A" phrase of the theme and instead concentrates on the "B" phrase; this choice especially influences "The Race," which like "Yannick and Leila" allows the piano's layered lines to relieve tension with a switch to the major key at its end. While the thematic core of La Ligne Droite is reminiscent of vintage Doyle scores (led by the descending duo of notes at the end of the "B" phrase, a technique heard in Thor as well), the rhythms may be more challenging for some of his collectors to appreciate. While you can connect some of these rhythmic devices to previous Doyle scores (including Killing Me Softly and Est-Ouest, among others), there is definitely a Glass vibe that dominates La Ligne Droite at times.

The highly repetitive, cyclical nature of the rhythms and their sparse rendering by familiar instruments will speak to those who appreciate Glass' well known sound. Some listeners will also equate parts of this score with Michael Nyman. Rather than simply emulate these composers, however, it was more likely that the circumstance of the ensemble size and Doyle's attempt to address the repetitive motions of training and running in general informed his music for La Ligne Droite in this fashion. Out of context, these propulsive sequences are often highlights that thankfully pull the score out of the few doldrums it has. The application of these accelerated rhythms to the sequence from "Running in the Sand" through "Rescued" is the hidden highlight of the score, the ferocity of "Yannick Falls Overboard" overcoming the small ensemble size (this is one of the cues where some dubbed help is suspected). Even in the more ambient parts of the score, as in the whining high strings of "Stealing a Car" and "Leila's Past" (the latter the closest outward nod to Glass), Doyle doesn't allow much time to pass before some basic rhythmic movement re-establishes the pace; the pair of "You Tricked Me!" and "Suspension Bridge" accomplishes this purpose all the while giving softer development to both phrases of the main theme. The only cue that stands apart as really unaffiliated to the rest of the score is "Playing Bridges," a brief passage that features Doyle's own piano performances of a unique melody. If any cue needs programmed out of your own arrangement, "The Other Woman" is the only one that could be dropped without consequence. Overall, La Ligne Droite proves once again that some of the best scores written for film continue to rely upon creative applications of small ensembles to achieve fantastic emotional connections. The easy harmony and satisfying progressions combine with outstanding performance emphasis from the lower strings and piano players especially to create an ambience of power from less than a dozen people. The beauty of the primary theme's dual purposes, both as a competitive tool and one of tortured romance, maintains a concrete narrative that resolves with lovely major key conclusions in the final two tracks. Some will degrade the score for being repetitive, ignoring its deceptively deep narrative development.

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On album, La Ligne Droite is the kind of score that is perfectly suited for a forty-minute listening experience, though don't be surprised if you find yourself repeating the full presentation several times. The Glass-like sequences of full ensemble rhythmic flow can be combined into fifteen to twenty minutes of extremely compelling propulsion, and "Stadium Memories" is a highlighting, masterful exhibition of the sense of anticipation a lone piano can accomplish before the strings harmoniously join its echoing alternation between intentionally broken chords and flowing elegance to represent dreams unrealized. The sound quality is as crisp as one could imagine; as a side effect of the close recording position of the instruments, the score is extremely dry (even more so than Doyle's usual sound). Normally, such a dry ambience sucks the dynamism out of a performance, but it works here. There may have been some temptation to artificially increase the perceived ensemble size by adding a bit of reverb, but the level of technicality and professionalism in the performance of this score is so high that the additional attention to dry detail from the string players is vital. Only the piano seems to have been afforded a slightly wetter mix, and in moments such as "Stadium Memories," that decision works wonders. Unfortunately, a CD of La Ligne Droite was only pressed by Varèse Sarabande's European branch, Colosseum, and after a very brief period following the release date during which the CD was available from Varèse through its American storefront (but confusingly pulled nearly immediately), buyers in the United States were forced to import the product if they want a lossless version. It remains available as a download in all regions, however. For a score of this quality, the CD is highly recommended, even at import prices. This is the twentieth review of a Doyle score at Filmtracks since 1996, and after awarding the composer four stars on more than a dozen occasions, La Ligne Droite finally transcends to receive that fifth star. Given the high quality of those many four-star scores, you should need no further evidence that this hidden gem is worth your time and money. As mentioned in regards to Thor in its earlier review, Doyle's initial two entries in 2011 immediately made him a lock for a Filmtracks nomination for composer of the year. ***** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Patrick Doyle reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.81 (in 27 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.38 (in 20,787 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.65 Stars
Smart Average: 3.46 Stars*
***** 66 
**** 57 
*** 38 
** 26 
* 15 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Alternative review at
  Southall -- 8/22/11 (1:05 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 40:13

• 1. Leila Runs Free (1:40)
• 2. Stadium Memories (2:34)
• 3. Seeing Her Son (1:35)
• 4. The Changing Room (1:09)
• 5. Training Games (1:28)
• 6. First Training (1:38)
• 7. Training Breakthrough (1:42)
• 8. The Other Woman (1:42)
• 9. You Tricked Me! (1:31)
• 10. Suspension Bridge (2:21)
• 11. Stealing a Car (2:23)
• 12. Running in the Sand (3:38)
• 13. Yannick Falls Overboard (1:11)
• 14. Rescued (1:57)
• 15. Playing Bridges (1:46)
• 16. Leila's Past (1:48)
• 17. Triple Training (2:06)
• 18. Raising Hands Together (1:46)
• 19. Through the Tunnel (1:13)
• 20. The Race (2:23)
• 21. Yannick and Leila (2:41)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a note from the director about the film, score, and composer.

  All artwork and sound clips from La Ligne Droite are Copyright © 2011, Varèse Sarabande. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/5/11 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2011-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.