Film scores

Soundtrack review: Zero option (Terri Plumieri – 2008)

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I’ve been familiar with Terri Plumieri’s name but I can’t remember what I’ve heard from him. So I can count the score for “Zero option” as a chance to get reacquainted with his work. The movie is similar to the more famous “Crash” in the sense that it brings three seemingly unrelated story lines to collide in an unexpected matter. A Japanese family, a businessman and a criminal all live their lives not knowing that fate will bring them together.

The opening is serious and intense, like “Cape fear” intense. There’s a shadow of Bernard Hermann’s usual menacing darkness in “Main titles” and I love it. I couldn’t listen to that sound often or for a long time, but every now and then I need that weight. “Love in the evening” introduces me to the bass and I get a flashback of 90s thrillers where a cue like this one would play while the characters would meet or plot on that hill outside Los Angeles where they can see the lights of the city. It’s a feeling I will recognize often in this score… that bold lushness of the 90s… the Americana sound… the guitar.

This feeling of a 90s thriller dominates my experience of listening to “Zero option”. It’s a god thing, because I sort of grew up with those movies and that sound is almost as familiar to me as the metallic synth rhythm of the 80s. In the midst of all this familiarity I discover gems like the sweeping “The messenger” which strangely also makes me nostalgic for the 90s but for the heroic movies. Terri Plumieri’s music travels familiar paths inside me, pleasant paths, which means I am enjoying the score and not skipping anything but also that it’s hard for me to single out this score and remember anything from it once it’s over, other than this very nice sensation.

“Zero option” is the kind of score that gets my attention but stays in the background, in the back of my mind. It keeps drilling and drilling but it remains at the surface. There’s nothing in this composition that I would want to keep in my treasure chest. I hear the way the movie develops and I know the score will work excellent in context. I imagine adding an exciting movie on top of this music that provides the foundation of which it will be built. As a standalone listen though, once is enough for “Zero option”.

Cue rating: 81 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 6 / 35

Album excellence: 18%

Highlights:

The messenger

Running For Your Life

Love Waits

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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