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Simply delightful 60s throwback from Hamlisch
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2009 Universal Studios; review copyright (c) 2009 James Southall.
Steven Soderbergh's The Informant! is a comedy based on the true story of a company executive (played by Matt Damon) recruited by the FBI to be a whistleblower on dodgy industry practices. He attacks his role as a spy with some relish and his dreams of being a super-sleuth take him a little too far. Providing the score - his first in over a decade - is Marvin Hamlisch. He was a prolific and successful film composer in the 1970s (he won three Oscars in three different categories for three different films - all in the same year! - which remains a record) but has spent most of his time working on other projects in the decades since.
Hiring him was a masterstroke by Soderbergh. His extremely witty, retro score - effortlessly evoking the swinging 60s music of John Barry, Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini, Neal Hefti and Burt Bacharach - provides the most fun I've had from a film music album in as long as I can remember. The album actually opens with a deceptively serious piece - evoking a smokey room filled with super-suave spies doing what they do best - even suggestive of a bit of sleazy romance.
Then, along comes "Meet Mark", with Hammond organs and an insanely catchy tune played by flutes - quite brilliant. "Car Meeting" begins with a wonderful bit of Barry/Bond guitar before exploding into a glorious piece of big band swing; "The Raid" is a delightfully silly piece reminiscent of the sort of music heard in 60s sex comedies, but frankly better than the real thing. And just when you think you've heard it all, up steps "Polygraph", a brief little hoedown with fiddlers fiddling for all their worth.
The whole score is simply a delight. There's an original song, too, written by Hamlisch with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, "Trust Me", based on the main theme; Steve Tyrell croons as if his life depends on it. An ironic lyric in the song is "There's no future living in the past" - because this score positively revels in living in the past. It does it in the most glorious, witty way. I don't suppose it will be for everyone - you'd have to have a certain affinity for the kind of music it is so lovingly evoking - but it's absolutely an album for me. A proper CD has been released in Europe by Silva Screen; in America, all you can do is get a CDR from Amazon.