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Surprising drama score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album cover copyright (c) 2008 Ferris Entertainment, LLC; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall
A young girl is abandoned by her mother, removed from the loving care of her uncle by social services, winds up with her abusive grandfather... it's fair to say that Sleepwalking isn't a feel-good film. Starring Nick Stahl, Dennis Hopper, Charlize Theron, Woody Harrelson and youngster Annasophia Robb, this is the directorial debut of visual effects supervisor William Maher, and clearly quite a departure from the kind of films he's worked on previously. Reviews haven't been particularly kind, apart from when mentioning the acting, with Stahl in particular finding a lot of praise coming his way.
This kind of serious drama is the sort of film that Christopher Young doesn't score very often, but would probably dearly love to. I can't remember the last time I said this about a film score - but this one is really surprising. It just doesn't sound like one might expect the score for this film to sound - it's actually written by a composer willing to try a new solution to a familiar problem rather than just regurgitate what anyone else might have written - I'm hoping the event may be commemorated by some kind of national holiday. What the score doesn't do is offer the same old "Variations on American Beauty" material as every film like this has done for the last decade - with Young instead using a very small ensemble (guitar, bass, piano, synths) to provide a score which veers between dark, psychological material and light pop.
After a teeny-bopper song opens the album, the score begins with the unsettling main theme in "Sleepwalking", in which Young uses his limited array of performers to create an impressive sound. "Heavens to be Had" is far more melodic, introducing another theme, much more upbeat and really catchy; and then "The Water Waltz" sounds almost like a Burt Bacharach pop instrumental! While it is the darker sound of the first score cue which dominates, there are frequent interludes with lighter material, which means the album flows really very well indeed. The charming "Ferris Wheel", with its lovely piano theme, is one of the highlights - and the (presumably sampled) string accompaniment works really well. The album is nothing earth-shattering, but is really nice to listen to, and a welcome change of pace from Young.