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Hillbilly Elegy
  • Composed by Hans Zimmer and David Fleming
  • Milan / 42m

Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy is an adaptation of J.D. Vance’s memoir, starring Gabriel Basso as Vance, who has to return home to his family in Ohio from college to deal with a family emergency. Hans Zimmer returns to work with Howard yet again (it is one of his most longstanding relationships with any filmmaker), with David Fleming getting full co-composer credit. If I were to sum up the score in one sentence, it would be to say that it’s essentially like a redneck version of Man of Steel, or specifically that score’s more earth-bound material – the opening cue, “Transformation”, has much in common with that score’s finale, only with a more country/bluegrass ensemble – guitars, banjo, percussion, plus a prominent role for solo cello. It’s a really nice piece which sets the tone nicely.

In common with Rebuilding Paradise, another Zimmer/Howard score released only a couple of weeks earlier, the score’s other softer moments often recall the Zimmer-branded BBC nature documentary music (and Fleming was a contributor to Blue Planet II). It does go through some darker territory too, though – “Suffocating” is exactly that, with some pretty gnarly percussion and other acoustic effects. “Bev” is a fascinating psychological portrait, with some grit just bubbling through a rather dark, disturbed aural landscape. It’s a slight, almost entirely low-key score but a nice one to listen to – its sound palette is one that I always find appealing and the composers conjure a decent emotional journey which finds some surprising depths.

Rating: *** | |

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  1. Rory (Reply) on Monday 30 November, 2020 at 21:13

    “A redneck version of Man of Steel’s score” is one of the more terrifying musical descriptions I’ve heard on this site, haha.

    Nice to see Dave getting a co-credit! He’s had a neat ear for electronic textures in the past.