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REIGN OVER ME
Excellent music running through a gamut of emotions
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and GH Three LLC; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
One of the year's best-reviewed films, Reign Over Me stars Adam Sandler, cast against type as a man who lost his entire family on September 11, and it follows his friend's attempts to help him rebuild his life. It didn't do particularly well at the box office despite its very positive notices. Cast against type virtually as much as Sandler was composer Rolfe Kent, who seems to have become typecast in broad comedies. Since his outstanding music for Sideways in 2004 seemed certain to propel him onto the next level, he hasn't really had the chance to write much music of note; Reign Over Me is his strongest score since.
It's an intriguing mixture of styles - like Sideways, it has its roots in European jazz over 40-50 years ago, but clearly it could not be as cheerful and summery as that music. Instead, Kent uses a similar ensemble to produce a very different sound, with a more distant feel. The hues are darker, the melodies colder - however, the score is by no means entirely without warmth or colour, with fairly frequent forays into lighter territory. The director Mike Binder notes in the album booklet that Kent needed to write music which could go from comedy to drama to tragedy and back again, and he did this in a surprisingly coherent way.
Some of the cues are simple piano melodies (frequently bleak) backed by sustained synth pads and occasionally sampled (spoken) vocals, recalling certain parts of Mark Isham's score for Crash (though this is more simple than that multi-layered music). This had the potential to be an awkward mix, but Kent pulls it off very well, with well-considered conviction. The score's darker moments are very dark, and the lighter ones very light, but they are all identifiably part of the same whole, which is the mark of a well-constructed film score. I imagine it must have been a difficult thing to get right, but Kent managed it, and this album from Lakeshore Records is recommended.