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Soundtrack review: The tourist (James Newton Howard – 2010)

JNH Thursday

Soundtrack review: The tourist (James Newton Howard – 2010)


“The tourist” was an eye candy action / comedy starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. The action took place mostly in Venice so visually everything about this movie was right. Not the same can be said about the plot but it didn’t matter.

I imagine James Newton Howard had fun writing the score for this one. The music is light and has a summer holiday feel to it. This is the only good thing I can say about this score because, just like the plot of the movie, the music is thin and rather forgettable. Still there is something that kept “The tourist” memorable. This is the perfect example of why it is worth it to sit through every score out there in the hope of finding a hidden gem. Not only that, but even skipping less interesting cues after one minute would have proven to be a mistake in this case. The theme I found in this one is a 6 star cue and another proof that James Newton Howard is a wizard. Just like he likes to do every now and then, our maestro had a few moments of exaggeration…

There’s this theme that teases us for brief moments in “Paranoid math teacher” and the beginning of “Arrival in Venice”. Nothing complete or out of the ordinary, just a hint that something gorgeous might be hiding further down the score. “Elise offers a ride” gets even sweeter and more playful and puts the listener in the mood for what comes immediately after “A very nice kiss”….

…Meet “Bedroom dreams”. Please listen to this cue. Forget the movie; forget the rest of the score because this is our prize. From its first notes you realize that this is something special, like an old photograph of the most beautiful place in the world hidden in a pile of flyers. It shines from the dust and you have trouble believing that what starts as a sweet piano tune turns into such a magnificent storm of orchestral feelings. The first half of this cue is beautiful; the second is out of this world. Just be patient with it. The colorful caterpillar turns into the most beautiful butterfly that just flies away and lights up the day with dozens of rainbows. Then it disappears as fast as it had appeared and the world returns to its normal self.

“Bedroom dreams” is one of the most beautiful themes James Newton Howard ever wrote and proof that magic exists. This score is worth listening to just for that. And this track? This is the beauty of music. You can’t have too much of it. You can just play it and replay it and it is immortal…you can stay stuck in that moment for as long as you want to…

Cue rating: 65 / 100

Total minutes of excellence:  5 / 65

Album excellence: 7%


Elise offers a ride

Bedroom dreams

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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