A four-part television series about a woman fleeing her marriage in the Satmar Hasidic Jewish community of Brooklyn and looking for a place for herself in Berlin is an unlikely market-grabber, but in an era with a literally captive at-home audience, Unorthodox has been trending on Netflix for three weeks now and racking up millions of views.
Music for the series comes from Paris-based Australian ex-pat Antonio Gambale, and in an era that has been proving challenging in the extreme to many arts professionals, he is quietly enjoying seeing his work being enjoyed by so many.
Paris is half a world away from suburban Canberra where Gambale grew up - attending the same college that also lays claim to having Jackie Chan in its alumni.
Two decades and a handful more years later, Antonio Gambale has built a sturdy career in a difficult industry as composer of scores and soundtracks for film, television and advertising.
While his resume includes some impressive arthouse credentials, including the Kar-Wai Wong feature The Grandmaster and Aussie independent film Joe Cinque's Consolation, I'm most impressed that Gambale worked with composer Nathaniel Méchaly on the soundtracks for all three films in Liam Neeson's Taken franchise.
Unorthodox centres on the performance of Israeli actor Shira Haas and a literal escape - her character Esther is fleeing a marriage in America and hiding herself in Germany. It is mesmerising, well-made television.
Esther has been placed in an arranged marriage with Yankee (Amit Rahav) at an early age and does not cope with his overly intrusive family and community pressures.
In the first episode, Esther flees and as she establishes her new life - pursued by Yankee and his cousin Moische (Jeff Wilbusch) - we flash back on her marriage and its unfolding, her family and her environment.
In scenes of flight and pursuit, you might expect to have your emotions led by the score, lots of crescendos and strings and pace.
What I really appreciate about Gambale's approach to the score in Unorthodox is not feeling manipulated and intruded upon, as many other composers might approach this.
In a series rich in Jewish ritual, he doesn't hammer home Hebrew melodies and shies away from instruments more usually associated with traditional Jewish music.
"When I auditioned for this job the production team were very clear about what they didn't want," Antonio Gambale says.
The series has moments of beautifully performed traditional Hebrew music, and a later scene in a techno-filled Berlin nightclub, which gave Gambale two musical styles to avoid.
Gambale was suggested to series writer and producer Anna Winger - responsible for the terrific series Deutschland 83 and Deutschland 86 - by a mutual friend who works for Winger's production company, and his name was added to a list of artists asked to pitch for the job.
Working from a pitch document and a few pages of script, Gambale contributed a few of his ideas that resonated for series director Maria Schrader.
Actress-turned-director Schrader took home the Silver Bear from the 1999 Berlin Film Festival for her performance in Aimee & Jaguar, has appeared onscreen in dozens of film and television pieces, including the Deutschland series, and has directed three feature films.
"Maria was on the phone saying saying she had been listening to my tape on the train and once she heard Esty's theme, she couldn't imagine the show without this music anymore," Gambale says.
Gambale was invited to Berlin to meet the production team, and unlike many productions where the final music is dropped in after the editing, he often worked in real-time, submitting pieces as scenes were shot, and with the editing team sometimes finding rhythm in his pieces to help them pace their cutting of scenes.
Of late, Canberra has been contributing more than its fair share of talent to the international film industry, with Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland), Liv Hewson (Santa Clarita Diet) and Alex O'Loughin (Hawaii Five-0) on camera, while behind it, we might be currently enjoying Canberran Cate Shortland's big-time Hollywood debut with the Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow movie, had COVID-19 not forced its release to later this the year.
For Gambale, a move away from Canberra was necessary in the mid-90s to pursue a career in music for film and television.
"The Canberra we grew up in had these big acts coming to the ANU Uni Bar, like Nirvana, the Violent Femmes, Public Enemy, but at the same time it wasn't, unlike now, having these great films and TV shows made there," he says.
He enrolled in the inaugural Screen Composition course at Sydney's Australian Film Television and Radio School (Amanda Brown from the The Go-Betweens was his classmate).
With much of his extended family in Italy, Gambale was drawn to Europe and a brief gig working for Malcolm McLaren on an uncompleted project found Gambale living in Paris and deciding to give it a go as both home and workplace.
Since then, Gambale has worked independently and in collaboration with a number of musical partners, and finds himself as busy today working from home, currently on a new score, as he was prior to the coronavirus era.
His studio set-up at home is more complex than a laptop and keyboard - being a musical incompetent, I'm nodding and not understanding the equipment he is explaining to me - but I am familiar with the file-sharing app Dropbox, which is helping Gambale commission friends to contribute.
"My musician fiends all have good home microphone sets ups, we can all work remotely, you don't need to fly somebody in to record a cello piece, I have a friend in the south of France sending me bass tracks," he says.
When he comes up for air from his current workload, Gambale says he is "in shell-shock" at the success of Unorthodox.
"You hope these things you work on will find an audience," he says, "though sometimes you're just happy if your friends and your family enjoy them.
"For me, I got to work with with these people I admire...with this great story from such an interesting book, but suddenly here we are getting write-ups in the New York Times.
"Sometimes a good story can reach out and connect with people."
- Unorthodox is streaming now on Netflix.