have to admit, I never like soundtracks with music featuring a line-up of bands that really don’t have anything to do with the movie. The last great soundtrack I can remember is Trainspotting, mainly because it incorporated the songs (which most of weren’t even exclusive for the soundtrack) into the film. Who can forget Renton shooting up to Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” or taking a swim in toilet water to retrieve a used laxative while Eno’s “Deep Blue Day” relaxes in the background?
Morvern Callar adheres to the same aesthetic of Trainspotting. Though it doesn’t serve the same purpose in telling a story, it is just as effective. The soundtrack, literally, is the mix-tape that Morvern’s dead boyfriend left behind for her. Following her journey throughout the film, it has its shining moments (walking through the gloomy, sterile supermarket where she works to the sounds of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra doing “Some Velvet Morning”), yet sometimes seems non-existent, unlike the music of Trainspotting. Songs by Ween, Boards of Canada and Lee Perry are all forgettable in the film, yet Aphex Twin’s “Goon Gumpas” is memorable as the party anthem and The Velvet Underground’s “I’m Sticking With You” is absolutely unforgettable as the soundtrack to her chopping up her boyfriend’s lifeless corpse.
The author of the novel the film was based on, Alan Warner, is a great fan of Krautrock pioneers Can, mentioning them in the book on a few different occasions (he even dedicated the novel to Holger Czukay). Thankfully, the soundtrack captures the magic of Can and Czukay’s music (which also works nicely in the film). “Cool In The Pool”, one of Czukay’s more dance-oriented numbers, plays like a dream when Morvern steps onto the dance floor when she first arrives in Spain. It also segues nicely to one of the story’s funniest moments, involving a bathing suit switcheroo between a guy, a girl and a potato sack.
I guess the most obvious bonus of this soundtrack is that Warp has released it, with a slew of their bands making appearances. Warp doing soundtracks somehow feels perfect for such a surreal story. And while they could have made it only Warp artists (which I’m sure would have worked just as nice), they have added some classics and given it the moody, artistic persona of a well thought out mix-tape.
Reviewed by: Cam Lindsay
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01