The Right to Love: An American Family is a documentary film by a small independent film company, Jaye Bird Productions. The film is set against the backdrop of campaigns against Gay Marriage in the US, which in California resulted in the Proposition 8 ballot to amend the consitution. While powerful political campaigns were being fought across the country, one family decided to inject a personal touch to the debate using social media simply to show people their own lives. The Leffew family uploaded videos of their domestic lives to youtube and they blogged on the internet. This documentary film examines their campaign to inform and educate people, bringing humanity to the debate and hoping to illuminate entrenched views.
The original music score for the film is by Edwin Wendler, an award-winning composer who is emerging as a gifted and versatile artist. In The Right to Love, Wendler keeps a light touch throughout. His music is not overtly emotional or taking sides in the debate, but sensibly letting the documentary speak for itself. A feature of his score is the cello solo played on the soundtrack by Jakub Mayer. Only in one or two places does the score approach an orchestral sound, and for the most part it is an intimate conversation between cello, piano and a handful of other instruments. Comparisions to other film scores might include some of the work of Alexandre Desplat, a little quirky but interesting and involving. Frequently the cello plays broad melodic lines against an accompaniment of simple figures and arpeggios, and this layered approach suggests a complexity of ideas and feelings. The orchestration of solo cello accompanied by simple figures is reminiscent in places of Philip Glass's Naqoyqatsi.
The opening track "Common Interest" is bright and happy, as though introducing us to a family movie. "The Initiative" starts relatively happy yet it morphs and changes, a work ethic seems to shine through the busy piano and the solo cello hints at something a little darker with its closing glissando. "Voting on Rights" takes us on a journey, with the cello's melodic line becoming serene and elegiac in comparison to some darker rumblings. "For And Against" is minimal and mysterious with a few distant piano chords emerging from the mist. "Spreading Fear" is a busy track led by xylophone and cello, becoming more orchestral towards the end. "Tradition" seems distracted and improvisational, a dialogue between cello and piano. "Spin" is a busy cue for piano, with its chromaticism hinting at underlying complexities. "Tears and Rain" is introduced by a few chords from an acoustic folk group, and proceeds with rain samples layered on an evolving drone. "Election Day" begins in busy fashion before dark clouds introduce an ominous tone, and piano and cello exchange some ideas in the final score track "The Playbook". The albums ends with a small selection of song tracks used in the documentary.
Edwin Wendler's score is light and understated, but in a strange way it asks questions and elicits consideration. If you like your music to be thought-provoking and introspective then this is a wonderful score, and a perfect accompaniment to a documentary dealing with a subject that many find controversial. You can hear music samples from the soundtrack on the composer's site at The Right to Love: An American Family where you can also purchase the album. Proceeds will help the Leffew family attend upcoming screenings of the documentary. The official movie website is at www.r2lmovie.com including trailer and more details about the film. The film has not been released theatrically but it is finding an audience on the festival circuit. It is also available on DVD and you can apply to host screenings. See for yourself the Leffew family's video channel called "Gay Family Values" at www.youtube.com/depfox.