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Warm, spirited score for family drama
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * * 1/2
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall
A family movie about a young girl who tries to show she's more grown-up than her parents realise when she attempts to look after a horse, Flicka did not attract very favourable reviews, and its box office take must have disappointed the filmmakers. Director Michael Mayer turned to the talented young composer Aaron Zigman (who wrote the deservedly-acclaimed score for The Notebook) for the music. The story had previously been filmed in 1943 as My Friend Flicka, and blessed with a score by the great Alfred Newman, but it is to two other members of the Newman clan to whom Zigman has seemingly turned for inspiration for this one.
First, there's Randy Newman, and specifically his score for Seabiscuit, another horse-themed film, whose influence runs right through here, either deliberately or not - even the orchestration with the guitar over the generally bright brass lines, which is quite distinctive, is very similar. There's no melody carried over, and indeed Flicka has a strong and memorable theme of its own, but the similarity is at times uncanny. Fortunately, this doesn't distract from the quality of the score, which is very high - it's got some good tunes, there's some exciting action music (particularly "Flicka Chase", which is a great thrill-ride) and it is always lovely.
Second, there's Thomas Newman, whose quirky style has been an influence on countless film scores (and plenty of other music) in recent years, to the extent that I'm not really sure any more whether it's worth commenting on how similar the sprightly piano music of a piece like "Sneaking Out of the Barn" is to his style - it's so prevalent in so many films, perhaps it's now just become a film scoring staple.
For the most part, the score is warm and uplifting, but Zigman delves into slightly darker territory when he needs to, such as in the anguished "The Search", which is very impressive. Indeed, the album as a whole is very impressive, a very good score for a family adventure and certainly comes recommended - this is clearly a composer to watch.