Contributing roughly fourteen minutes of original music to The Last Belle is British composer Stuart Hancock, whose music for the fantasy short film Hawk proved to be one of the greatest surprises of 2011. That particular score engaged a full orchestra, as well as choir, with complex, colorful orchestrations and melodies worthy of the grandest of fantasy epics; the fact that it was written for a modestly budgeted short lent the film all the more gravitas. There's no doubting the strength of Hancock's compositional voice, and he continues to affirm that with The Last Belle, a stylistically different but equally enchanting work.
"I've Got Myself A Date!" opens the film with a quietly optimistic theme that, through orchestration reminiscent of Elfman at his most playful, blossoms into an expression of grand romanticism. Strings, twinkling celesta notes, and bright woodwinds carry the dexterous main theme as the melody quickens and unfurls with Rosie's growing enthusiasm for her mysterious date. The brief "Giddy Rosie" injects the slightest bit of caution into the main theme, proving a good segue into the next cue, "Drunk Wally". Hancock varies the key of the main theme a bit here to give it some shadiness, perhaps suggesting the untrustworthiness of Rosie's feelings for her unmet match, and then brings in some huffing and puffing brass for Wally's drunken antics. "Five Past Eight" boasts a brief, raucous crescendo, the carnivalesque nature of which is continued in "Going Down the Tubes", an immensely enjoyable standout cue that introduces the second dominant theme of the score. It's a lively, sensationally orchestrated waltz that follows Wally as he tries to navigate London in a drunken haze en route to his date with Rosie. This proves a wonderful pairing with the film's imaginative visuals. Things settle in "Where's Wally" before they pick up again in the frantic "Rushing to Ripov's", and the bouncy "The Date". "Finding Love In London" marks a welcome return of Wally's lively waltz, with a climactic statement of it towards the end of the cue. The concluding track, "The Last Belle", reprises both the main theme and that waltz in a warm, satisfying finale, and it's not really until these adjacent statements that the themes' similarities become quite clear. Fittingly, they are revealed to be two sides of the same coin!
The Last Belle, as regrettably brief as it may be, is indeed a pleasantly surprising, quirky little score. The performance by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra is rich and vivacious, and Hancock knows how to write music that really lives and breathes. What's more, he demonstrates a knack for detail, the minor flourishes he adds and emotional shades he is able to execute really elevating the score to an impressive level of complexity. Don't be fooled by your preconceptions of a "short film score", because Stuart Hancock once again demonstrates that good things can indeed come in the smallest of packages. Bravo!
A Few Recommended Tracks: It's only fourteen minutes, folks. The whole thing!
Label: MovieScore Media
Availability: 10 track edition