Henry Fool Original Soundtrack
By: Eric G.
I'm embarrassed to admit that I had never seen a Hal Hartley film until 1995's Flirt. I was immediately taken in by the simple, seductive, otherworldliness of the music and the way it played against what was happening on screen. His music often serves in lieu of dialogue, which seems strange considering the fact that his films are known for their unique dialogue patterns, but he creates an added dimension with his music that separates him from his contemporaries.
Hartley has scored all of his own films under the name Ned Rifle until Henry Fool, in which he uses his own name. This score follows in the same vein as his previous works, which use musical themes that reprise throughout the films in various guises depending on the moods of scenes similar to the way Bernard Hermann's score crept through Taxi Driver. These themes are usually comprised of an odd guitar arpeggio or a deliberately repetitious keyboard line that is at once moody and reflective.
Full-length songs are scarce, but do appear sporadically under the moniker Ryful (a play on Hartley's pseudonym), which is a full band featuring Hartley on guitar and keyboards. The tones he utilizes on the guitar are distinctive and immediately recognizable as his own. These pieces hold their own disassociated from the visuals in the film. If you are not familiar with any of Hartley's films, start by renting Surviving Desire and work your way to Henry Fool from there.