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Soundtrack review: Donnie Brasco (Patrick Doyle, 1997)

Composer of the month Patrick Doyle month

Soundtrack review: Donnie Brasco (Patrick Doyle, 1997)


For comparison’s sake, I will review “Carlito’s way” twin score, “Donnie Brasco”. Al Pacino’s character in this movie is similar to Carlito in many ways, a bad guy trying to do good things or a good guy who did a lot of bad things, depends on how you look at it. I love this movie; I watched it tons of times. I remember this is the movie I watched as soon as I found out I was admitted to college, one of my happiest moments. It was playing at the theater across the street from my future university.
The music is very low key when listened out of context. This time, Patrick Doyle provided more of a background score rather than trying to impose feelings to the listener. Granted, the film is powerful enough to do that on its own, but I would have liked to have had more themes. The music gets repetitive to me and the cues are too short (not one of them longer than 3 minutes) to have time to get more interesting.
There are a few cues worth mentioning though. “This ain’t New York” is alive with a lovely flute tune. “You belong to me now” and “The raid” are two decent action cues that got my attention, and the end, my favorite part, finally gets rightfully emotional and Patrick Doyle’s beautiful music shines. “The final call” and “Donnie and Lefty” are saving this score from oblivion and give the proper farewell to the characters. In “Donny and Lefty” the violin simply breaks your heart in less than one minute.
“Donnie Brasco”, though one of the best movies Patrick Doyle has scored, is one of his more forgettable scores. Still, as in every Doyle score so far, the hidden gems are there for the listening, if you are patient enough.
My ratings:
Cue rating: 66 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 6 / 33
Album excellence: 19%
Cues to listen to:
This ain’t New York
You belong to me now
The raid
The final call
Donnie and Lefty

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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