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Excellent subtle thriller music
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Universal Studios; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
Based on a true story, Breach tells the tale of Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent who turns out to be passing information on to the Russians during the Cold War and beyond. The film garnered strong reviews and features an excellent cast led by Chris Cooper, and I eagerly await its UK release. Director Billy Ray's only previous film was Shattered Glass, whose music was composed by Mychael Danna (though only after an effort by German duo Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil had been rejected).
The composer deftly blends two styles here - there is an almost ethereal, heavenly sound for the murky world of espionage, mixed with more modern stylings when the drama requires. Danna is a very individual composer who tends to approach films differently from how others would have done, and this is so refreshing - the last thing one expects to find in a score for a movie like Breach is music quite this elegant and involving, but it's not hard to see why it would work so well.
All the music is performed by a string orchestra and piano, with synthesised embellishment when appropriate. The level of drama Danna manages to extract from this ensemble is impressive indeed: the emotional intensity of pieces like "An Agent Named Robert Hanssen" and "The Last Drop" never lets up, and is done with great skill. For sure, the music isn't flashy and it isn't showy, but has such a wide range of feelings, of subtle changes of direction and of beautiful, subtle colours that it ends up being impressive indeed.
I would say this is an album which will appeal more to the "discerning listener" rather than those who love the latest blockbuster scores. Danna is a composer at the top end of the film music spectrum at the moment, one able to bring his own ideas to the table and execute them expertly. Breach is top-class film music, and comes highly recommended.