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Soundtrack review: Sleuth (Patrick Doyle, 2007)

Composer of the month Patrick Doyle month

Soundtrack review: Sleuth (Patrick Doyle, 2007)


Sleuth is a Kenneth Branagh remake of a 1972 film, a movie in which a millionaire detective novelist matches wits with the unemployed actor who ran off with his wife in a deadly serious, seriously twisted game with dangerous consequences.
The movie is claustrophobic, it feels more like a play and it’s only focused on the cat and mouse game between the two men. What better way for Patrick Doyle to put this on notes other than a nonstop exciting and intense tango? This score is nothing but a short, sweet and passionate tango…the steps are either slow, as in “The visitor”,  “Black arrival” or “Rat in a trap”, or fast as in  “Itch twitch” and “One set all”. The music follows the relationship and change of power position between the two characters and is just as much part of the game as they are. I listen to this score and it’s like I’m following a tense tennis match.
There’s also voice over on one cue, dialogue from the movie on “I’m not a hairdresser”. I like inserts like these, especially when the score is for a movie based on conversations or monologues. It links the music to the movie; it fixes a scene and creates a mood.
The crown jewel of this score though is the title track. “Sleuth” takes the tempo to an insane level, it builds up until it crashes, and it’s one of the most exciting tango cues I’ve ever heard. The piano notes and the strings are caught up in a dance of their own, except instead of trying to best each other they build a magnificent 6 minutes sequence that provides the essence of what this score is about.
The last cue of the score, “Too much sleuth”, is an electronic / remix like version of the theme I had just gotten addicted to. It’s an interesting addition to an even more interesting score. I really enjoyed listening to “Sleuth”, it is one of the more unique compositions in Patrick Doyle’s career.
My ratings:
Cue rating: 80 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 30 / 36
Album excellence: 82%
Cues to listen to:
The Visitor
The Ladder
You’re Now You
I’m Not A Hairdresser
Black Arrival
Itch Twitch
Rat In A Trap
One Set All
Too Much Sleuth

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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