David Holmes and Brian Irvine built their score for Ordinary Love on principles found in mathematician John Conway’s Game Of Life. A computer simulation of cellular systems. Where “players” programmed parameters define a cell’s ability to live, multiply and die. The duo, in much the same way, allowed their musical themes to cycle – to proliferate and / or regress – like the cancer that frames the film’s story.
Subtle swirling orchestration – of plucked and bowed strings. Solo piano that conveys the lonely worry of waiting – for treatment, results, and prognoses. Worry is a task that`s ultimately carried alone. Sharp refrains nag like it. Almost out of earshot. But always there. A cello ache for the heartbreak. The attempts to wear a brave face. “Protagonists” alternating between trying to ignore the odds, and making plans for loss. Busying themselves with mundane routine, and grey detail. Hiding in it. What else can you do? `Cos for most people the world doesn’t stop just because you fall ill.
There`s anger and pity. Why me? Why them? The fear of the chemo – the size of the needle, the size of the dose. The pain of the side-effects. The not knowing if you’ll respond. The terror of check-ups. Sleep it actually comes easy, but its escape never lasts long. That old routine replaced by a new one, of to-ing and fro-ing. Of being prodded, probed, biopsied, and scanned by scary machines. So often that you stop asking questions and simply do as you are told. Where you put your faith in doctors, nurses, medicine and science, since folklore would have you believe there`s no hope. The sheer strength of will required to rise above these obstacles and remain positive, forcing all those affected to pull on armour. That armour often driving them apart. Any flaws in a relationship, and, man, now`s when it`s gonna crack. Any love that survives can’t be ordinary.
The closing Isn’t It So, is a faintly flickering torch song. Haunted, whispered, and worthy of Lynch and Badalamenti. Lyrically, and musically, it reunites all these themes as it sighs in resignation, and final wisdom, like a broken Billie Holiday. As it prays that you’ll find comfort.
David Holmes & Brian Irvine`s perfect soundtrack to the deeply moving Ordinary Love is available to purchase, care of Belfast-based imprint, Touch Sensitive.