44 Inch Chest is about a man who, with his friends, plots the kidnapping of his wife’s lover. It features a strong cast (Ray Winstone, Tom Wilkinson, Joanne Whalley, Ian McShane); first-time director Malcolm Venville turned to the veteran Angelo Badalamenti to write the music. It’s an unusual, eclectic score. (Though to be honest, being eclectic is not that unusual for Badalamenti). There are some folk influences, a little jazz, some electronic ambience. Perhaps there’s nothing here which is too stretching for this composer, but it’s a good demonstration of his abilities. Melody maybe isn’t the main idea here, but there certainly are some strong ones (“Theme for Colin” is a beautiful portrait of a man who is clearly troubled – Badalamenti in fine form).
Perhaps more surprising are the more intense periods of suspense. “Chauffeur”, with its hypnotic, swirling strings, could come from a Pino Donaggio / Brian de Palma score. And then that’s followed by the lounge jazz of “Clayton’s Cocktails” (presumably a source piece) – this is truly a score made up of many disparate elements. Indeed, that’s likely to be a key factor in your enjoyment of the album – it plays more like an instrumental compilation (of some very different instrumental styles) than a dramatic film score album. In isolation, each of these is pretty impressive, but it’s not an album which flows terribly well. Still, I recommend it – some of the core material is very strong and much of the music is unusually subtle and intelligent for this kind of film. ***