Latest reviews of new albums:
  • Composed by Clint Mansell
  • Lakeshore / 62m

Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is now eighty years old, so it feels fair enough for someone else to have a go at it – but Ben Wheatley certainly had a lot to live up to. Stepping into the shoes of Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier and Judith Anderson are Lily James, Armie Hammer and Kristin Scott Thomas as the second Mrs de Winter, Maxim and Mrs Danvers respectively. Teaming up again with Wheatley is composer Clint Mansell, who wrote one of his finest scores for the director’s High-Rise. This is a very different sort of movie from the ones you’d most associate with Mansell so it was always going to be interesting to see what he’d do with it.

The answer is that he’s tried to get inside the protagonists and musically express what’s going on in there. Inevitably, the whole thing is shot through with a huge melancholy – and a feeling of a slow but inevitable march towards something, with all the plucked strings and piano. Interesting textures come in alongside the string orchestra – glass armonica, electric cello – and while the whole psychological portrait Mansell paints is very effective, as an album listening experience the score is at its strongest when it gets a little more upbeat, such as in the beautiful, soothing “The Peace of Manderley” which is a great cue, and later the lovely “Tell Me That You Love Me Now”. Really though, the mood is so downbeat almost throughout – perfectly understandable, but you’d have to be in the right mood to want to sit through an hour of it very often. (It reaches fever pitch in “The Second Mrs de Winter”, truly psychologically violent music.) It’s intelligent and very thoughtful music, the modern elements seem appropriate rather than anachronistic, it represents another feather in the cap of its composer – it just somehow doesn’t quite come together into a compelling album, for me at least.

Rating: ** 1/2 | |

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