In late 1997, Anu Singh, an attractive law student in Canberra Australia, made plans to kill her boyfriend Joe Cinque after throwing a series of macabre farewell dinner parties. The dinner guests, most of them university students, had heard various rumours about her plan, but nobody warned Joe. Joe's death and the subsequent trial drew the attention of the whole country, as the broader community struggled to come terms with how a life could fall through so many hands.This infamous story of a tragic death took place in my home town, involving students at the university which I attended along with the film's director Sotiris Dounoukos. It became the subject of a best-selling and haunting novel by acclaimed author Helen Garner.
When Sotiris acquired the rights to write and direct the official film adaptation of Helen Garner's book, the story of this film and the events behind it became a matter of many years of discovery and discussion between Sotiris and myself. As he delved deeper into his research of original court documents, transcripts, and notes from Helen Garner's own research, we became more and more aware of the challenge ahead of us to do justice to the participants and victims of this story in producing a film that would recount an honest portrayal of the events that occurred leading to Joe's death.As the script started taking shape through several drafts, it started to become clear to me just how delicate the approach to the music in the film - both the use of it and also the tone and quality of the music itself - would be. This film is not a documentary, but regardless it still bore a responsibility to make its case without imposing bias via cinematic means in unjustifiable ways.Since a film's score can be so deeply influential in the way we read characters' intentions, or in how it can colour the perception of events, we were keenly aware that we needed to make very careful decisions about what the music was going to say - where, when and why.Ultimately it came down to making decisions about perspectives. We realised that the best way to use music with integrity in this film was to always keep it sharply focused on the emotional and mental state of the characters as the story unfolds.For example, it was out of the question to create music that would foreshadow a sense of conscious dark intentions, or to use music to suggest direct hints at upcoming events or actions. Rather, it was more important for the music to help express what we know about what the characters were going through at the time, from their own words, testimony and the assessment of expert witnesses.So much of what allowed the tragic conclusion to this story happen was because of the people involved taking everything at face value and choosing not to delve deeper. So we felt it was important for the music to do the same - to reflect the visible emotional states of the characters without attempting to imply anything under the surface which may or may not have been there. An important goal of the film was to allow audiences to sink into the story, get to know the characters without prejudice and therefore be left with the question of asking themselves what they themselves might have done if they had been there. It was very clear that if we made flippant choices with the music, we could detract from this crucial central purpose of the film.
Joe Cinque's Consolation had an unprecedented reception at its first première at the Melbourne International Film Festival in Australia - the first screening sold out in record time. It went on to be received very favourably at its international debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, receiving some very positive reviews from well-regarded industry publications such as Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Hollywood News as well as in the general press such as The Guardian and The Australian. It was widely discussed in many blogs, with some excellent articles written about it contributing to the debate.Most of all, much like with the hope Helen Garner expressed in her book, we were pleased to have been able to bring awareness of this tragic story to more people and help contribute to keeping alive the memory of Joe Cinque alive.Joe Cinque's Consolation is now available for purchase on DVD and on the iTunes store for digital download.You can listen to my original score for Joe Cinque's Consolation here.