- Composed by Rachel Portman
- Back Lot Music / 2017 / 47m
Lasse Hallström appears to be the go-to guy when it comes to films about dogs (he does, after all, share his name with the most famous Hollywood dog of all) and his latest canine escapade is A Dog’s Purpose, based on W. Bruce Cameron’s 2010 novel. It suggests that dogs become reincarnated into other dogs and this film sees a chance encounter between a dog and one of his predecessor’s owners turning into quite a romantic plus for said owner. No, I didn’t make any of that up, and this really is a film about that. I imagine it will prove to be a career high-point for most involved. Rachel Portman has scored several movies for the director over the years (including most of his best ones since he moved to Hollywood) and this one is everything you would expect it to be – warm and sprightly, full of sweet tunes (often like instrumental pop ballads), not tremendously distinctive.
Most of Portman’s scores for light dramas like this are very similar and what sets the better ones apart tends to be the presence of really memorable tunes, which sadly A Dog’s Purpose lacks. What it does have, in spades, is enthusiasm – it’s the musical embodiment of an incessantly wagging tail, a constantly happy little yap, bounding off and bring back the favourite stick, and so on. Guitar, piano and strings dominate the succession of generally short tracks, punctuated only occasionally by more serious fare – tracks like “Fire” and “The Dam” are effective in bringing a more colourful palette overall, and the latter in particular is actually very atypical for Portman, quite dark modern action music. The four incarnations of the dog are given their own little flavours, which also keeps things moving along nicely. Portman does this sort of thing so well: even if much of it is really very familiar, its charm is infectious. If you want a little feel-good score as a pick-me-up then there are certainly a lot of worse places to turn.