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FINAL ANALYSIS – George Fenton

February 10, 2022 Leave a comment Go to comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Final Analysis was one of several ‘sexy thrillers’ that mainstream Hollywood produced in 1992 and 1993 – others included Basic Instinct and Body of Evidence – which sought to capitalize on the fact that there were several good looking leading men and women by putting them in various stages of undress and elements of danger. This film was directed by Phil Joanou from a screenplay by Wesley Strick, and was made as a clear homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Richard Gere plays San Francisco-based psychiatrist Isaac Barr, who is drawn into a torrid affair with Heather (Kim Basinger), the sister of his current patient Diana (Uma Thurman). When Heather reveals to Barr that she is married to gangster Jimmy Evans (Eric Roberts), and wants out of the relationship, Isaac commits to helping her – but there is more to Heather than meets the eye, and before long Barr is drawn into a web of deceit and murder.

The score for Final Analysis was by George Fenton, and was the first of several scores he wrote for Joanou’s films, with the others including Heaven’s Prisoners and Entropy. The score was one of the first in Fenton’s ‘mainstream Hollywood’ period, which began following his long-established work in the British film industry, and a series of critically acclaimed scores in the late 1980s for projects like Cry Freedom, Dangerous Liaisons, Memphis Belle, and The Fisher King. Essentially, Final Analysis is Fenton’s homage to Bernard Herrmann. It’s a lush, sultry, evocative orchestral score which combines swooning romantic music for the relationship between Barr and Heather, but then underpins this with a sense of danger and suspense relating to the thriller plot at the heart of the story.

The “Final Analysis Front Titles” introduces the score’s primary identity, an elegant string theme over a slow, pulsating base, but which quickly devolves into something more strident and immediate, with rapped percussive hits and a more urgent rhythmic string element that may have been temp-tracked with Patrick Doyle’s 1991 thriller score Dead Again. An action/suspense part with more prominent brass and frantic, swirling violin figures rounds out the cue – clearly alluding to the fact that there is a dangerous heart beating beneath Basinger’s captivating demeanor – and the whole thing ends with a terrific Psycho-style Herrmann chord.

Cues like “The Rain’s Stopped,” the opening part of “The Day Lighthouse,” and others, are filled with lilting, seductive interplay between strings and woodwinds, and have a rich and noirish Golden Age sound which is beautifully alluring. The tonal relationship between Fenton’s writing here and Herrmann’s score for Vertigo is unmistakable – especially the famous “Scène d’Amour” – and although the notes and chord progressions are different, obviously, the feeling is very much the same. The finale of “The Day Lighthouse” is probably the score’s romantic apex – it underscores one of Gere and Basinger’s love scenes after all – but even here the swooning passion is clearly underpinned with some subtle menace.

“The Murder” is one of the score’s central action and suspense sequences; there are hints of Danny Elfman’s Batman in the way some of the strings are phrased, and it all builds up to a darkly frantic finale as the brutal Jimmy finally meets a sticky fate at the wrong end of some metal dumbbells. Later, the sequence comprising The Switch,” “The Bay Marina,” and “The Kidnap” builds on this approach, and combines it with more of the excellent action/suspense writing from the front titles cue. I especially appreciate Fenton’s use of xylophones and tambourines in the percussion section of these cues – touches in orchestration that Herrmann also used to use frequently – while the increased intensity and savagery of the slashing strings leaves the listener in no doubt as to who the true villain of the piece is.

Elsewhere, cues like “Do It” and “The Courtroom” are more abstract and generally eerie, and often make use of sparkling and shimmering electronic textures to add a different dimension to the strings, while elements of the main theme intone moodily underneath. “The Tea Room” is an understated piece that combines an extended solo for harp with a classical string quartet.

The conclusion of the score comes in “The Night Lighthouse,” when Barr finally gets the upper hand over the femme fatale who has been making his life a misery, and clears his name once and for all. The main action and suspense elements – turbulent strings, resounding brass, relentless percussion – all come to a head in the stairwell of the isolated and wind-swept lighthouse, and Fenton dials up the intensity over the course of five minutes, until the moment where Heather literally falls head over heels and takes a permanent nap at the foot of the structure; Fenton’s descending brass scales tumble with her to her doom.

Final Analysis is a fun, entertaining little thriller score that has plenty of thrills and spills and moments of intensity, as well as some of the trademark elegant romance that has typified so much of George Fenton’s work over the years. It’s a short release – just a hair over half an hour – which means that there is scope and opportunity for an expansion somewhere down the line, but even with this brevity of running time fans of Fenton’s work will find plenty to appreciate.

Buy the Final Analysis soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Final Analysis Front Titles (2:38)
  • I Had the Dream Again (0:38)
  • The Rain’s Stopped (3:34)
  • Do It (1:51)
  • The Day Lighthouse (3:07)
  • The Murder (2:07)
  • The Courtroom (2:46)
  • The Tea Room (2:35)
  • The Switch (2:24)
  • The Bay Marina (2:09)
  • The Kidnap (1:05)
  • The Night Lighthouse (5:48)

Running Time: 30 minutes 42 seconds.

Varese Sarabande VSD-5356 (1992)

Music composed and conducted by George Fenton. Orchestrations by Jeff Atmajian. Recorded and mixed by John Richards. Edited by Sally Boldt. Album produced by George Fenton.

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