Film scores

Soundtrack review: Fifty shades of Grey (Danny Elfman – 2015)

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„Fifty shades of Grey” is a movie a lot of people have been talking about. Everyone loves controversy and a steamy erotic story like this one so I guess that’s what all the hype is about. Danny Elfmhttp://www.soundtrackdreams.com/2015/02/soundtrack-review-fifty-shades-of-grey-danny-elfman-2015/an is an odd choice to score this film but since I haven’t read the books nor do I plan to see the movie I guess I will have to rely on him to provide me with all the steam and intensity that this story supposedly has. It’s the second Elfman effort for this year and I wasn’t very touched by the first one, “Big eyes”.

First erotic thrillers that come to mind in terms of how a score should sound like are “Killing me softly” (Patrick Doyle owned that score and I can still feel the thrills when I listen to his music) and Jan A.P. Kaczmarek’s “Bliss”. Both scores were amazing and intense . Danny Elfman opens with a piano theme “Shades of Grey” which can be developed upon. “Ana’s theme” is a little too quiet. There’s a shadow in it tough, a trace of sadness and I like that. The cue is almost ambient and represents a point of origin for the story.

“The red room” is probably where things start to heat up. Again it’s a cue with undeveloped potential. It’s electronic in sound, there’s piano in there but it doesn’t take off. I keep waiting to feel something from it but so far it stays generic, as does “Then Don’t!”. “A spanking” doesn’t change the tone or get any daring. This cue could work for any kind of movie and that’s not a good sign.

“Going for coffee” gets playful with the guitar. “Where am I?” adds some strings in the background and a little mystery. I still feel as if this score is at the door, too shy or even uninterested to even knock. I listen to the cue called “Ana and Christian” and I expect fireworks, emotion, I mean this is the theme for the relationship between the two main characters of this intense and controversial story. The music picks up the pace but only a little bit but far from making me feel anything. There’s no chemistry in the music and no real emotion. By how melodic it gets I see two people walking hand in hand in the park, not a couple engaging in all sorts of activities unsuitable for minors.

“Clean you up” is even more lifeless. I am having a tough time getting through it. “The art of war” is comedic at best. Where is the Danny Elfman who shines in action scores? Where’s that emotion? The only moments I like are the short piano motifs that come out from time to time (like the beginning of “Did that hurt?”) but they are just moments that fade away almost immediately.

“Bliss” gets almost religious with the choirs and I find this choice odd. I’m not sure this is the kind of bliss that the story talks about.   “Counting to six” finally displays some of the emotion that’s been lacking in the rest of the score. The strings do a good job and I actually like this cue. “Variations on a shades”, the 6 minute long end cue, feels as emotionless and generic as everything else.

Unfortunately “Fifty shades of Grey” wasn’t for me. It had only one shade and it was kind of pale. I’m not sure Danny Elfman fans will be able to connect with this. Maybe the ones who saw the movie…

Cue rating: 62 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 0 / 46

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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