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FOOL’S GOLD – George Fenton

February 8, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A romantic comedy action-adventure directed by Andy Tennant and starring Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson and Donald Sutherland, Fool’s Gold follows the fortunes of Benjamin and Tess Finnegan – soon-to-be-divorced deep sea treasure hunters in the Caribbean who, despite being on the verge of a bitter separation, team up for one last adventure when they find directions to a lost Spanish treasure. Cue the light hearted action, the playful banter between the protagonists, and McConaughey with his shirt off and his abs on display, as is usually the case in films like this.

Cue also George Fenton, director Tennant’s regular composer, who embraced the film’s Caribbean setting as a chance to immerse himself in the musical culture of the area. Although the end result is a cross-country mishmash of Jamaican trumpets, steel drums and Cuban guitars, the end result is intoxicating. The “Main Title” is a lovely, sunny piece, in which guitars lazily croon over a bed of warm strings, setting the scene and making the listener crave a Red Stripe or two; subsequent cues, such as “Late for the Hearing” and “Saving Gemma’s Hat”, revisit the style with great success.

There is quite a bit of light-hearted caper music, all plucked strings and urban beats, to underscore Matthew & Kate’s comic misadventures, but this is not what we came for. The action material, in cues like “Man Overboard”, “Sabotaging the Grid” “Trouble in the Churchyard”, “Finn to the Rescue” and “The Treasure, the Kidnap and the Sea Plane” is enthusiastic and clever, mixing the myriad of Caribbean percussion instruments into the rhythm section of a flighty, and occasionally quite powerful symphony orchestra.

Fenton virtually never gets the chance to write this kind of stuff, and it’s a shame because he’s really good at it. There’s also some of Fenton’s patented romantic writing, in cues such as the flamenco-inspired “Aurelia and the Queen’s Dowry” and the gorgeous “Tess’s Theme”, which revisits the lush style he adopted in one of Tennant’s previous films, Dangerous Beauty, with equally pleasing results.

Possibly the best thing, however, is the rousing main theme, first heard in “The Stand Off”, which recalls the work Fenton did on scores like Memphis Belle and Valiant, and is quite superb. All in all, this is an unexpectedly excellent entry into the Fenton canon, and is well worth investigating.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Fool’s Gold Legend/Main Title (4:25)
  • Where’s the Boat? (1:34)
  • Debt Collector (Bigg Bunny) (2:06)
  • Man Overboard (3:01)
  • Late for the Hearing (2:07)
  • Where’s the Plate? (1:31)
  • The Nigel Factor (1:53)
  • Saving Gemma’s Hat (2:06)
  • Aurelia and the Queen’s Dowry (5:31)
  • The Stand Off (Fool’s Gold Theme) (1:56)
  • Sabotaging the Grid (3:46)
  • Tess’s Theme (1:24)
  • The Day Dive (2:45)
  • Discovering the Cannon (2:21)
  • The Aurelia Stone (4:47)
  • Trouble in the Churchyard (2:09)
  • A Deathtrap (2:09)
  • Finn to the Rescue (2:08)
  • The Treasure, the Kidnap and the Sea Plane (5:46)
  • A Nice Soft Landing (Tess’s Theme) (1:41)
  • Sharing the Spoils (1:50)
  • Love and Affection (performed by Majek Fashek) (3:26)
  • You Can Get It If You Really Want (performed by Desmond Dekker) (2:39)
  • Call Me Thumper (performed by Classic) (2:34)
  • Truly Madly Deeply (performed by The Dualers) (2:50)

Running Time: 68 minutes 22 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6885 (2008)

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