Film scores

Soundtrack review: Reach me (Tree Adams – 2015)

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“Reach me” sounds like a peculiar film. It’s one of those movies with a huge and talented ensemble cast and interwoven stories connected through a single element (in this case, a book); usually these movies work and end up as very interesting experiences (see “Crash”, “21 grams” and so on). This time though the critics have come to a consensus that reads a rare 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Setting that aside the music is what interest me. The score was written by Tree Adams whom I knew from the Californication days.

38 cues and 56 minutes usually spell bad news for me. I am not a fan of scores with a lot of very short insert cues. I understand though that the movie required this because of the huge number of characters and stories. Each character gets his beat, his own separate music genre. The composer said that, “The violent cop gets a tremolo guitar in that kind of old western sheriff style. We went into some dissonant free jazz for the journalist […]. The gangsters got the classic bad guy treatment with low ominous strings”. The trouble I had with all these was that they sounded rather generic. The cues are too short for a proper theme to be developed and the wide variety of styles doesn’t allow “Reach me” to have a clear identity either.

I hear shadows of emotion in “Opening theme” or “Adios”. The quieter cues seem to get my attention. There’s a familiarity in their tone and if they were longer I would have enjoyed them more. I would have loved to have heard more of “Kate flashback” for example. Those 40 seconds are not enough and they told me something.

The jazzier and happier cues (I hear traces of Thomas Newman in “Tourettes Stuntman” or “I’m free”) are interesting musically but I can’t connect to them very well. To me, many of these short inserts are more like alerts for when a certain character comes on screen. They help the viewer connect the character with his back story through a few notes. It probably helps navigate the movie better. We hear a jazzy cue and we think “Ok, I heard this before 20 minutes ago and this guy was doing this or that”. I hear “You’ll be surprised” and it must be a scene featuring the cop and the journalist because there’s a mix or western like guitar and jazzy percussion.

As a standalone listen though, having not seen the film, “Reach me” doesn’t really work for me. It’s not a bad score, far from it, but it wasn’t for me. I prefer more developed themes. This is a movie about completely different people who start changing their lives for the same reason but I don’t hear that in the score. I don’t hear that evolution and that’s one of the reasons I didn’t enjoy it so much.

Cue rating: 62 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 0 / 56

Album excellence: 0%

About the author

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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