Home > Reviews > SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK – Danny Elfman


November 30, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Films about mental illness aren’t usually side-splitting laugh-riots, but David O. Russell’s film Silver Linings Playbook, based on the novel by Matthew Quick, manages to stuff plenty of humorous moments into an otherwise quite serious film about an unlikely couple who bond over their respective psychoses. Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a former teacher who had a complete mental breakdown after his wife had an affair with a colleague; returning home from the hospital to live with his Philadelphia Eagles-obsessed parents (Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver), and fully intending to try to reconcile with his wife, Pat unexpectedly meets and bonds with Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), the sister of his best friend’s wife, an equally-damaged young woman whose own problems stem from the recent death of her police office husband. The film features career-best performances from Cooper and Lawrence, whose flawed and off-kilter relationship is a satirical reflection of contemporary life – the pair’s first meeting results in them happily regaling each other with tales of prescription psychoactive drug experiences, and develops from there – and I fully expect the top-billed cast and crew to receive Oscar nominations for their work in the New Year.

The score for Silver Linings Playbook is by the ridiculously busy Danny Elfman, whose fourth score of six in 2012 this is (the others being Dark Shadows, Men In Black 3, Frankenweenie, Hitchcock and Promised Land). Being a contemporary comedy-drama, the film didn’t require an elaborate score for a full orchestra, so instead Elfman dipped back into his bag of tricks and emerged with a light, tuneful orchestral-rock score that plays like a combination of his score for Midnight Run back in the 1980s, Taking Woodstock from 2009, and the songs he wrote for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2005, sans lyrics. The score is performed mainly by piano, guitars and percussion, with a few light synth overdubs here and there, and the occasional inclusion of a wordless male voice choir singing in a light pop style and a 1960s vibe, sort of like the kind of dreamy vocal harmonies bands like The Beatles, The Beach Boys or Procul Harem espoused.

The entire score is built around a recurring main theme, an upbeat and optimistic melody that clearly mimics the defiantly positive world-view Pat adopts in an effort to convince his doctor’s he’s cured, and simultaneously win back the hand of the woman who cheated on him. The melody features in virtually all of the 10 cues on Sony’s short 21-minute score album, going through a couple of variations here and there: the extended “Silver Lining Titles” sets the scene by presenting performances of the central main theme, a slightly jazzier and dirtier secondary theme for bass guitar, and a more fast-paced and aggressive tertiary theme, all of which are overlaid by the cooing vocal performance.

The solo piano performance in “Running Off” is a little downbeat and introspective; “Simple” has a lonely, slightly skewed synth element running through it that introduces a subliminal feeling of isolation and alienation; “With a Beat”, obviously, has a more prominent drum kit percussion section, and as a result has a more purposeful air; “Tiny Guitars” ramps up the rock stylings with a pair of acoustic guitars and tapped hi-hat cymbals leading the melody; the dreamy vocals and processed guitars return in “Walking Home”, giving it a melancholy drone, which continues on into the first part of “Silver Lining Wild-Track”, before glass bowls, tubular bells and what sounds like a hammered dulcimer give the melody a definite air of psychedelia. Everything comes together in the almost 4-minute “Happy Ending”, the longest cue on the album, in a large and defiantly optimistic final restatement – although the bonus “Goof Track” at the end is a hilarious outtake of the main theme, informing us that Robert De Niro was in Raging Bull and Jennifer Lawrence was in Hunger Games. I’m glad we cleared that up!

And, for the most part, that’s it: it’s slight, short, inconsequential, but an enjoyable and undemanding diversion for anyone who enjoys Elfman’s melodious and carefree modern rock sound. In the film the score plays definite second fiddle to the numerous rock songs by artists like Stevie Wonder, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, but the memorable central piano melody is catchy enough to become a compilation favorite, and you may hear it played plenty of times at the Academy Awards ceremony in 2013. The score is a digital download only, and although it won’t appeal to score fans who only appreciate Elfman when he’s firmly entrenched in Batman mode, its well worth checking out for Elfman completists.

Rating: ***

Buy the Silver Linings Playbook soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Silver Lining Titles (3:12)
  • Running Off (2:02)
  • Simple (1:56)
  • With a Beat (2:17)
  • Tiny Guitars (1:01)
  • Walking Home (1:05)
  • Silver Lining Wild-Track (2:57)
  • The Book (0:42)
  • Happy Ending (3:53)
  • Goof Track (1:28)

Running Time: 20 minutes 34 seconds

Sony Classical 886443698796 (2012)

Music composed and arranged by Danny Elfman. Recorded and mixed by Noah Scot Snyder. Edited by Dick Bernstein. Album produced by Danny Elfman.

  1. November 30, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    I really wish they’d stuck this on the end of the existing album–there was more than enough room.

  2. August 3, 2013 at 3:22 am

    sangat bermanfaat

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