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RESERVATION ROAD – Mark Isham

October 19, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One thing I’ve never been fond of is Mark Isham’s synth writing. Give him an orchestra, and I’m putty in his hands; let him loose with electronics – like they did on scores like Blade and Timecop and Crash – and I generally loose interest pretty quickly. Such was the case with Reservation Road, the latest film from Irish director Terry George. Based on the book of the same title by John Burnham Schwartz, the film deals with the aftermath of a tragic car accident on the titular highway, in which two fathers – Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo – are forced to deal with the death of a 10-year-old boy. The film also stars Oscar winning actresses Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino.

That’s not to say that Reservation Road doesn’t have its moments, because it does: some of the few acoustic soloists do provide a great deal of emotional content, especially John Oford’s bassoon, and Isham himself on piano. But these moments are few and far between, leaving much of the rest of the album somewhat of a disappointment. The score is accompanied throughout by a subtle string wash which, along with the continuous synth pedal, gives much of the score a faraway, detached feeling of aimlessness and loss – which is arguably the effect Isham intended to convey.

The main theme, heard in the bookending “Reservation Road” cues, is a sort of pseudo-Thomas Newman effort with a dark post-modern vibe and various edgy orchestrations, and is pretty much the score’s only real thematic high point. Elsewhere, the dark bassoons make themselves heard in “Aftermath”, the stark pianos feature prominently in “Fatal” and the jittery “Diplomat”, and cues such as “Confession Failed” bring scampering, agitated pizzicato effects into play.

The previous comparisons to scores like Timecop and Blade were perhaps a little misleading, because Reservation Road isn’t an action movie in any way – but, still, one can’t shake the niggling feeling that this score, like those scores, isn’t all it could have been. The mood is soothing and the writing is textural, but beyond the few standout moments of instrumental and thematic content highlighted above, there is precious little else to pique the interest.

Rating: **

Track Listing:

  • Reservation Road (2:46)
  • Accident (1:25)
  • Aftermath (2:39)
  • Home (1:49)
  • Fatal (2:09)
  • Peanut Jar (1:15)
  • It’s My Fault (2:01)
  • Funeral (1:27)
  • Internet Search (1:46)
  • Civil Suit (1:31)
  • Podcasts (1:49)
  • Diplomat (1:52)
  • Confession (1:31)
  • Confession Failed (1:32)
  • Obsession (2:00)
  • He Knows (1:56)
  • Threat (1:06)
  • Goodnight Emma (1:26)
  • Suburban Kidnapping (4:23)
  • Walk Away (6:07)
  • How Do You Forgive (2:15)
  • Reservation Road (4:06)

Running Time: 48 minutes 51 seconds

Lakeshore Records LKS-33964 (2007)

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