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THE BRAVE ONE
Fairly standard, serious thriller score is a slight disappointment
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * 1/2
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
Neil Jordan's The Brave One sees Jodie Foster play a woman who turns vigilante as she goes out for revenge after her fiancÚ is killed during a brutal attack. While some reviews have likened it to Death Wish, one assumes that the rather marked difference between Jordan and Michael Winner means it is probably a little deeper than that. For several years, Jordan worked exclusively with composer Elliot Goldenthal, but his apparent exile from film scoring (punctuated only by his music supervision and brief score for his partner's Across the Universe musical) shows no sign of ending, so instead the director turned to one of today's most promising composers, Dario Marianelli.
Perhaps there is a slight parallel here to when Alexandre Desplat scored Hostage and Firewall - a young composer known for his elegant music for serious films scoring an action thriller, seemingly cast against type - but I guess The Brave One is probably a little more serious than those two; at least, its music suggests so. Whereas Desplat seemed almost to be liberated slightly by letting off the shackles and having a lot of fun, Marianelli - to an extent - keeps them on, and has written a brooding, slightly austere score which is anything but fun. It opens beautifully, with the lovely guitar theme "Erica", and some orchestral - vaguely Herrmannesque - suspense music follows.
It's not long before the score's main feature is revealed, and sadly this is rather uninspired thriller music with the over-familiar electronic percussion playing its way around the orchestra. This doesn't go on ad nauseum - Marianelli is too refined a composer to allow that - but the suspense material in between is cut from a very small cloth, being highly repetitive. It's effective enough, but I can't help but wonder whether he may have been able to inject a little more life, a little more variety into it. Only when John Powell makes an unexpected appearance ("Car Jam" is a Bourne descendant if ever I heard one) is there a bit more life; but frankly you may as well listen to Powell himself if you want that sort of thing.
Marianelli's gloomy portrait probably works very well in the film, but sadly is one of his least satisfying score albums to date. I guess it shows a new side to the composer, but it certainly doesn't bring the kind of gasps that perhaps Desplat's forays into this kind of thing did; obviously I must keep saying that the film is very different, but there simply isn't enough energy in the music to sustain interest throughout, despite its qualities. Goldenthal simply doesn't do uninteresting music, and listening to a few of his scores for this sort of film reveals just how possible it is to score them in a way which is musically more interesting than this, which has its moments but simply doesn't offer enough surprises.