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Enjoyable but repetitive thriller score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
A somewhat surprising film for Kenneth Branagh to be tackling, you might think, but here is his remake of Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Sleuth, a superior thriller featuring a score by John Addison. This time round, Jude Law steps into the Michael Caine role, and Michael Caine steps into the Laurence Olivier one; and the screenplay is, much to my amazement, by Harold Pinter. The film has, perhaps against expectations, got the best reviews of anything Branagh's directed in quite a while; of course, Patrick Doyle is along to provide the score.
It's an elegant, classy work, blessed with the kind of wit and sophistication a film like this would demand. Choppy strings dominate, occasionally recalling Beethoven in the melody and frequently recalling Morricone in the arrangement, specifically the Italian composer's wonderful scores for Euro-thrillers in the 1970s. The London Symphony Orchestra is credited, but I imagine nobody but their string players and pianist were required for the recording sessions; Doyle creates a wonderfully high-brow atmosphere with his ensemble.
Despite that, this is fundamentally a very simply score - the main theme is everywhere, underlying every track, and while there are many variations on it, because of the orchestral palette Doyle chose to employ there is never a shift of mood. Therefore, even at 36 minutes (and seven of those being "dance mixes" of the theme by Patrick Doyle Jr, who I will probably uncontroversially speculate may be related to the composer) the score can grow quite old quite quickly. I certainly imagine it fits the film like a glove, and equally many people will probably find the monothematic approach quite intoxicating, but I wish the composer had managed to bring slightly more variety here, just for the benefit of the album listener.
Despite that, it's a strong album, the third in quick succession from Patrick Doyle, seemingly back to being as hardworking as at the height of his career. His collaborations with Kenneth Branagh have produced a rich range of film scores, and this is another new style for Doyle; while it is hardly a major work, it is an enjoyable, highly-entertaining one which - admittedly on a small-scale - provides much satisfaction.