There’s always been a delicious zest to Rachel Portman’s way with outsized characters, a talent for hearing life as a sympathetically loopy, waltzing circus as capable of laughter as it is heartbreak. From the clowning Johnny Depp that put the English composer on the Hollywood map with 1993’s “Benny and Joon” to a gallery of aristocrats high and low born, American eccentrics from the city and trailer hoods and any number of dottily magical characters, Portman’s tell-tale melodic voice is no more joyous than when celebrating individuals who capture the public’s imagination, no more so than when mixing the ingredients to embody the larger-than-life, French-trained, Pasadena-born bon vivant Julia Child, the woman who brought nascent food porn to tastefully break America out of its jello and hotdog-bound kitchen rut into the land of anyone-can-cook-it gourmet courses.

“Emma” Oscar winner Rachel Portman whisks together a magical concoction whose ingredients are immediately recognizable at first bite.

Taste wistful strings, romping rhythms, accordion waltzes and emotion as gossamer as it can be aching, all finished on the symphonic stove with memorable themes and melody, and you’ve got the musical cooking of Rachel Portman when given the kind of boisterous character canvases she excels at. Indeed, the musician who showed that women could make a film composing mark has never more stylistically scrumptious than serving up the persona of a fellow groundbreaker in a respectively wondrous field.

Read the full article from the Film Music Institute here.