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NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER
Synth-heavy action/suspense score is average at best but has a fine main theme
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * 1/2
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall.
A somewhat controversial film, Not Without My Daughter is about an American woman whose Iranian husband takes her back to his homeland and then forces her and her daughter to live under strict Muslim conditions which are presented as being oppressive and verging on inhumane. She therefore tries to escape the country, with her daughter. Fine performances by Sally Field and Alfred Molina (who seems to somehow look authentically like a man of any nationality he's asked to play) are usually what's singled out about the movie, though it's probably one of the most obscure of the great Jerry Goldsmith's later years.
Goldsmith was right at the end of a period of about ten years where he used synthesisers extensively - and sometimes, it feels, just for the sake of it. Here, he employs The National Philharmonic Orchestra without its brass section, using synths to fill in instead; a reasonable argument could be made that the somewhat abrasive sound he gets from them here was a way of signalling the distinctly un-western environment in which most of the film takes place, though the drum machines are rather harder to justify.
The score benefits from a fine main theme. It's not especially memorable by Goldsmith standards, but as heard at either end of the album it's a homely, attractive piece for strings which is very fine. Elsewhere the music is - very unusually for this composer - nowhere near as effective away from the film as it is within it. Some of the suspense music is a clear precursor to Basic Instinct (which would follow a year later), but there's not a hint of that score's wonderful payoffs to the suspense.
The action music is perhaps functional at best, composed in Goldsmith's unique way but somehow lacking the magic that so often flowed from his fingers. It would be far more impressive to listen to with real brass instead of synths (particularly "First Break"), though as noted above perhaps that would have ruined the composer's intentions for the score. It's not bad, but there are literally over a hundred other Goldsmith scores which should be higher up most people's list of priorities. It was released many years ago but has long been out-of-print; La-La Land's new album features a few minutes of extra music (which arguably improve the flow of the music), some source and a twenty-minute "orchestra only" suite where the synths are removed, which is pretty nice to hear. Not Without My Daughter is by no means a Goldsmith classic, but he's one of those composers who was so important to film music that even if only for archival purposes, it's always good to see one of his scores get released.