Home > Reviews > THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY – Gabriel Yared


December 24, 1999 Leave a comment Go to comments

talentedmrripleyOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Talented Mr. Ripley is the least impressive Gabriel Yared score I have ever heard. But before you leap up and down, you should be aware that my statement is tempered by the fact that I have only heard six of his efforts to date, and that he has scored many obscure movies in his native France and across Europe, so to make such a sweeping generalization is doing his work a bit of a disservice. But, whereas his recent efforts in City of Angels and Message In A Bottle transported the listener into the realms of high romance, The Talented Mr. Ripley is less well-defined, less thematically strong, and suffers the same fate as The English Patient by completely overshadowed on album by a load of irresponsibly-programmed songs.

On The Talented Mr. Ripley, Yared again teams up with his fellow Oscar- winner, director Anthony Minghella, for a film based on the popular novel by Patricia Highsmith. The film stars Matt Damon as the titular character, the nerdish Tom Ripley, who is sent by a wealthy businessman to 1950s Italy to bring his son Dickie (Jude Law) back home, away from the temptations of high living, women and alcohol. However, Ripley becomes enamored with Dickie and the lifestyle he leads, and begins to manipulate his immediate surroundings to ensure that his new status is maintained – even if it means murder. The film co-stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and at the time of writing has just been nominated for several Oscars – including one for Gabriel Yared.

Yared’s score is conventionally orchestral in nature, but much darker and more menacing than we are used to hearing from him. It seems that, for this exercise, the master of dreamy romance has turned all subversive on us. The usual Yaredisms are still very much in evidence, with the precise tempos and the highly stylized use of strings that typified his earlier works retaining their prominence here. His seven cues are all generally alike in tone and make-up, and on the whole are quite enjoyable. The score’s only recurring theme is for Tom Ripley himself, a long-lined, dangerous-sounding, faintly Arabic melody that appears for the first time in ‘Crazy Tom’, an  elongated scherzo replete with nervous strings and throaty clarinet chords, and is built upon further in the subsequent ‘Ripley’.

Other cues of note include ‘Italia’, a gently evocative illustration of the beauty of Rome, which is heavily influenced by the sounds of the old country, with mandolins and clarinets featuring prominently in the final mix, and ‘Mischief’, which is exactly as the title suggests, mixing tentative glockenspiel and xylophone textures with a slightly menacing string section and much ticking percussion. The two penultimate cues, ‘Proust’ and ‘Promise’, recapitulate much of the same music as their predecessors, the latter featuring a melancholy saxophone solo, before building to a great finale in ‘Syncopes’, into which Yared introduces a lovely, if a little depressing, string lament.

Punctuating the score cuts are several lively source selections, many of which are actually performed on-screen during the film. ‘To Vou’ Fa L’Americano’ is a real Latino toe-tapper which, I have to admit, got me swaying in time to the intoxicating beat, while jazz classics like Charlie Parker’s ‘Ko-Ko’, Miles Davis’s ‘Nature Boy’, and Dizzy Gillespie’s maniacal ‘The Champ’ seek to capture the musical preferences of the era. The one misfire is Matt Damon’s own rendition of Rodgers and Kern’s ‘My Funny Valentine’, in which he tries to be sultry, but sounds more inebriated than anything. In the context of the film, it’s marks an important plot point, but Matt can’t sing as well as he can act, and it really should have been left off the album.

To fully appreciate the extent of Yared’s work, The Talented Mr. Ripley really needs a longer release, but as this is the only available recording to date, I suggest instead programming all the source music out and listening to the score as a 25 minute suite. Although I applaud Yared’s continued employment in the Hollywood studio system, and while I’m pleased he has finally been given the opportunity to score something other than a big love story, I still feel slightly disappointed that Gabriel’s music for this movie did not bowl me over in the same way that the outstanding Message In A Bottle did last year. Appropriate, dramatic, but underwhelming is probably a suitable final appraisal.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • To Vou’ Fa L’Americano (written by Renato Carosone and Nicola Salerno, performed by Matt Damon, Jude Law, Fiorello and the Guy Barker International Quintet) (3:02)
  • My Funny Valentine (written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, performed by Matt Damon and the Guy Barker International Quintet) (2:35)
  • Italia (1:40)
  • Lullaby for Cain (written by Gabriel Yared and Anthony Minghella, performed by Sinead O’Connor) (3:32)
  • Crazy Tom (4:47)
  • Ko-Ko (written and performed by Charlie Parker) (2:54)
  • Nature Boy (written by Eden Ahbez, performed by Miles Davis) (4:48)
  • Mischief (2:26)
  • Ripley (3:30)
  • Pent-Up House (written by Sonny Rollins, performed by Guy Barker, Pete King, Iain Dixon, Robin Aspland, Arne Somogyi and Clark Tracy) (2:40)
  • Guaglione (written by Nisa Fanciulli, performed by Marino Marini) (3:17)
  • Moanin’ (written by Bobby Timmons, performed by The Guy Barker International Quintet) (4:16)
  • Proust (1:59)
  • Four (written by Miles Davis, performed by Guy Barker, Pete King, Iain Dixon, Robin Aspland, Arne Somogyi and Clark Tracy) (3:41)
  • Promise (2:49)
  • The Champ (written and performed by Dizzy Gillespie) (2:45)
  • Syncopes (4:49)
  • Stabat Mater (written by Antonio Vivaldi, performed by Clifford Gurdin and the London Metropolitan Ensemble)
  • You Don’t Know What Love Is (written by Don Raye and Gene De Paul, performed by John Martyn and the Guy Barker International Quintet) (5:22)

Running Time: 63 minutes 54 seconds

Sony Classical SK-51337 (1999)

Music composed by Gabriel Yared. Conducted by Harry Rabinowitz. Orchestrations by Gabriel Yared and John Bell. Recorded and mixed by John Richards and Chris Dibble. Edited by Robert Randles. Album produced by Gabriel Yared, Anthony Minghella and Walter Murch.

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