- Composed by Thomas Newman
- Sony Classical / 2012 / 46:42
A quick look at the amazing cast of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel lets me know that this is a film I need to see – Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton. Based on Deborah Moggach’s novel, it follows the story of a group of British retirees who move to what they are promised is a luxurious hotel in India – on arrival they find it to be slightly less luxurious than expected. I guess that various life-affirming events then transpire. Director John Madden teams up with composer Thomas Newman for a second time, after The Debt. I’m never one to miss an opportunity to make an extremely facile observation, and am delighted that this time I have been presented with the opportunity of saying – imagine what Newman’s score for the Bollywood remake of American Beauty might sound like – and essentially you’ve imagined this.
The score opens with “Long Old Life”, a quintessential Newman main title piece with its little repeating rhythmic figures, only this time with the added colour provided by Indian instrumentaion. The theme that first appears in “The Chimes at Midnight”, on the other hand, is a long-lined beauty and brings an air of magic whenever it appears. At times Newman gets surprisingly far into A.R. Rahman territory – the brilliantly exotic “Road to Jaipur”, the spirited, dancelike “Tuk Tuks”, the mesmerising finale “A Bit of Afters” – and his use of Indian vocalists throughout the score is impressive. “More than Nothing” is lovely, a male voice singing a haunting tune over percussion that sounds like it could come from Wall-E! There’s a very brief piece just before the end – “What Happens Instead” – which contains a melody of incredible beauty, it’s hard to believe it’s only heard for those 50 or so seconds before it vanishes again. This is such a colourful album, Newman painting vivid pictures – the music teems with life and, while those with an intolerance to the Bollywood style will find those influences seriously harm their capacity to take much from it, others will discover Thomas Newman’s most enjoyable album in years. ****