Home > Reviews > CROSSING OVER – Mark Isham


February 27, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Written and directed by Wayne Kramer, Crossing Over is a story about immigration in the United States, and about how immigrants of different nationalities struggle to achieve legal status in Los Angeles. It follows the lives of several individuals – Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Max Brogan (Harrison Ford), his Iranian-American partner Hamid (Cliff Curtis), a sympathetic defense lawyer (Ashley Judd), and a green card approval supervisor (Ray Liotta) – all of whom experience different aspects of America’s immigration laws during the course of their working lives.

The score for Crossing Over is by Mark Isham, who previously worked with director Kramer on The Cooler and Running Scared, and who scored a similar kind of multi-character drama with the Oscar-winning Crash in 2005. Like Crash, Isham’s score for Crossing Over has a modern urban groove to represent its contemporary setting, but unlike its predecessor is flavored with some lovely orchestral textures and instrumental performances to give it heart; this immediately makes the score more appealing and approachable than its sibling.

The opening cue, “Crossing Over”, introduces the score’s main recurring element, the first of a series of superb acoustic guitar elements which play over cool synth chords and warm string lines. The acoustic guitar performances return in virtually every cue thereafter, most pleasingly in “Juan Sanches”, “Mireya” and the lovely conclusive “Max Gets Word/End Titles”, giving the score a tonal center which is very pleasing, while rooting it in the musical conventions of the cultures the film examines. The use of a haunting, vaguely Middle Eastern solo vocalist in “A Dinnertime Visit” brings a new dimension to the score; similarly, the solo piano, solo cello and ambient synth accompaniments in “Claire Confesses/Hamid’s Sorrow” and “We Will Travel Together, Daughter” add a lush, dreamlike texture that is quite appealing.

Later, the synths are used in a harsher way, with industrial textures and bubbly rhythmic writing, giving cues such as “Liquor Store” and parts of “Naturalization” a dangerous urban edge. Crossing Over is a perfect example of how to write a modern, contemporary-sounding score with prominent electronics, and not have it sound dull or fake. Isham’s synthetic sound palette, and his judicious use of live instruments at the appropriate moments, makes this score one of the best of its type.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Crossing Over (2:47)
  • Drive to Mexico (1:37)
  • Juan Sanchez (1:50)
  • A Dinnertime Visit (2:25)
  • Claire Confesses/Hamid’s Sorrow (2:21)
  • ICE Raid (1:40)
  • You Look Like You Need a Friend (2:07)
  • Funeral (1:39)
  • We Will Travel Together, Daughter (2:08)
  • Liquor Store (3:05)
  • Tomorrow Was Supposed to Be a Special Day (2:36)
  • Naturalization (5:42)
  • Mireya (2:21)
  • Departures and Beginnings (3:21)
  • Max Gets Word/End Titles (5:06)

Running Time: 40 minutes 45 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6958 (2009)

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