Film scores

Soundtrack review: End of the tour (Danny Elfman – 2015)

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Danny Elfman’s year hasn’t been very rewarding for me. Except “The avengers” I wasn’t particularly moved by his other two scores, so this is another change for him to get on the scoreboard. The movie is “The end of the tour” and tells the story of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter and novelist David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) and acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel), which took place right after the 1996 publication of Wallace’s groundbreaking epic novel, “Infinite Jest.” As the days go on, a tenuous yet intense relationship seems to develop between journalist and subject.. Ironically, the interview was never published, and five days of audiotapes were packed away in Lipsky’s closet. The two men did not meet again. Sounds like a fascinating movie and my mind immediately goes to “Frost / Nixon”. Hans Zimmer’s score there was charming.

Hello there, minimalistic Danny Elfman! Didn’t expect to see you so after “The Avengers” and yet here you are, exchanging the powerful brass for chimes and soft percussion. I am very much into minimalistic score so I am game for this one. I frown a bit when I hear “Talk to Jen” because that is a cue so light that it vaporizes even before it ends. I am more attracted to something like “Room of books” even if the music sits at the edge of excellence without making the leap.

I am getting flashes of “Big eyes”. The music just doesn’t seem to have any substance in some moments. Ok, “Minneapolis” is nice and all but there is no depth, nothing to hold me there. I can work with something like “Going sour” because I can imagine and relate to the state of mind this cue describes. It’s that moment when you are at a mental crossroad between staying positive or losing it. It’s a moment of doubt and questions.

I have to keep in mind though that this score was written for a specific movie which needed exactly this type of music. This is the story of two men talking for a few days, exchanging ideas and emotions and the music needs to be out of the way. The viewer needs to focus on the two characters and what they are saying and the music could become intrusive. Minimalistic was the only way to go and I am sure that in context Danny Elfman’s score fits right.

The final section of the score saved it for me; suddenly, from “Walking the dog” on, everything fell into place. It’s not by accident that this final section includes a cue by Brian Eno. Elfman channeled his inner Eno in those cues and it worked magic. I am just mesmerized by those final tracks and this means I will come back to this score and see if I might have missed something great. I actually needed to rewrite my final thoughts on this score because of that brilliant end. For Elfman fans no doubt this will be an interesting listen.

Cue rating: 85 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 11 / 26

Album excellence: 42%

Highlights:

Intro

Going Sour

Walking The Dog

Invasion

The Shoe

The Big Ship (Brian Eno)

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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