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JIMMY P. – Howard Shore

September 13, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

jimmypOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Jimmy P., Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian, is a French drama directed by Arnaud Desplechin. Based on the autobiography by Georges Devereux, an early French psychotherapist, it stars Mathieu Almaric as a doctor who specializes in ethnology and psychoanalysis, who is asked to treat Jimmy Picard (Benicio Del Toro), a Blackfoot Indian who has returned from World War II with debilitating symptoms that seem to indicate post-traumatic stress and possible schizophrenia. Although the movie sounds very talky and intellectual, the movie actually deals with very human emotions, as well as the development of ethnographic psychoanalysis as a legitimate field, and was critically lauded at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

The score for Jimmy P. is by Howard Shore, who worked with director Desplechin before on Esther Kahn in 2000, and who clearly needed a break from writing music for Middle Earth. This score is about as far from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit as it’s possible to be; serious, classically minded, and quite austere in places, Shore trades his enormous orchestra for the more intimate sounds of a solo piano, woodwinds, prominent harps, and a chamber-sized string section, capturing the small but fiercely dramatic relationship between doctor and patient at the center of the story.

The “Overture” is lovely, presenting an intimate, unadorned solo piano performance of the recurring main theme, which forms the backbone of pretty much the entire score. Cues such as “Jimmy P.” and “Puppet Show” augment dark, Silence of the Lambs-ish woodwind motifs with soft tribal drums, which are clearly intended to evoke subtle reflections of the main character’s Native American heritage. The slightly off-kilter chord progressions that have typified much of Shore’s non-LOTR work throughout his career appear in abundance here, keeping cues such as “The Barn”, “Dead Drunk”, and the distant and tragedy-laden “War” and “Three Traumas” just the right side of unsettling, while hinting at the danger inherent in Jimmy P.’s damaged personality. There’s a much more conventionally romantic performance of the main theme for strings in “Madeleine”, and “Doll” has a softly lullabyish quality with its prominent harp solo, before the conclusive “Reality and Dream” gives a full performance of all the score’s main thematic, instrumental and conceptual elements during its almost 7-minute running time.

Jimmy P. has quite a lot in common with some of Shore’s more serious, dramatic, but inherently classical scores, like the aforementioned The Silence of the Lambs, or perhaps The Yards, eXistenZ or Before and After, and should be explored with caution by those who are only familiar with his work for Peter Jackson – although it is interesting how, having been so immersed in dwarves and elves for so long, some of the familiar instrumental phrasing and chord progressions remain apparent here. Personally, though, I love this kind of writing, and miss the times when Shore used to inflict deep, dark psychological trauma on his audiences with more regularity.

Buy the Jimmy P. soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Overture (1:58)
  • Jimmy P. (1:49)
  • The Barn (1:53)
  • Topeka
  • Kansas (2:12)
  • Dining Hall (1:31)
  • Dead Drunk (1:09)
  • Devereux (0:55)
  • Lily (0:58)
  • Madeleine (2:28)
  • Dreams (1:37)
  • War (2:33)
  • Three Traumas (3:06)
  • Psychotherapy (1:48)
  • Puppet Show (3:48)
  • Relapse (2:31)
  • Doll (1:16)
  • Oxyencephalogram (1:41)
  • Reality and Dream (6:58)

Running Time: 40 minutes 23 seconds

Howe Records BO-006 (2013)

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