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Soundtrack review: Killing me softly (Patrick Doyle, 2003)

Composer of the month Patrick Doyle month

Soundtrack review: Killing me softly (Patrick Doyle, 2003)


“Killing me softly” was an unusual type of movie for Patrick Doyle to score. It is an erotic thriller, very poorly received by critics. It is a departure from the usual theme of movies he scores, but it made no difference. It is one of my favorite Doyle compositions and I only had a bootleg of score until we finally got a proper expanded release last year.

Patrick Doyle delivered another beautiful score, with a mysterious and luscious atmosphere. The cues are mostly short (in the range of 1- 2 minutes) but they work. The orchestration is simple and deep enough to make perfect use of the short time. Nothing is in excess; each cue is crafted with surgical precision. Just listen to “First fling (original version)”. This track tells me exactly what I need to hear. It’s stormy and beautiful and again, nothing is exaggerated about it. After most of the cues end, I am surprised to see that they actually lasted at most two minutes. Patrick Doyle creates the illusion of time with his music on this score and I imagine it mirrors the relationship between the two characters, those first, intense, consuming days which feel like weeks and months.

The strings are sweeping and never pathetic or overly dramatic. “Waiting for Adam (original version)” is a perfect example of why I like this score so much… the music is an intense heartbeat, leaping rhythmically as the feelings get more unbearably strong. The pattern of short cues is broken twice: “Alice bound (original version)” and “The graveyard” are the two 5 minute cues of the score. The former is uneven while the second one is saved by some beautiful orchestral parts.

Patrick Doyle created an easily recognizable identity for this score. I can identify in a second a cue from “Killing me softly”. Most of them are chilling and keep the listener on his toes. There’s a sense of urgency about this score but it matches the story. I imagine time passing very quickly; I imagine impatience, I don’t see any tenderness in the story. The score keeps me alert and interested for the duration, it’s a very satisfying listening experience. I am really curious if it will end up in my top 10 at the end of the month…

Cue rating: 79 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 39 / 58

Album excellence: 66%


Traffic Light
The Library
First Fling (Original Version)
Don’t Turn Away
His Name is Adam Tallis – Alice Returns
Alice Leaves Jake
Waiting for Adam (Original Version)
The Wedding
Honeymoon Trek
Silk Scarf (Bondage)
The Necklace
High Suspicious
Alice Escapes
The Graveyard
Deborah Dies
Two Years Later
End Titles

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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