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Soundtrack review: Freeheld (Hans Zimmer and Johnny Marr – 2015)

Film scores Hans Zimmer

Soundtrack review: Freeheld (Hans Zimmer and Johnny Marr – 2015)


Hans Zimmer is the hardest working composer in the world right now. He is a workaholic and he loves music so much that I don’t think he ever sleeps. I will make a strange statement now, because we are talking about my favorite composer, but I wish he would take a break every now and then. I mean it… sometimes it feels like his craft is being diluted with all these scores he releases in collaboration with various artists. Don’t get me wrong; “Le petit prince” or “Woman in gold” were very nice scores and had brilliant moments, but I miss a solo Hans Zimmer score which will shatter my world. I feel the same way I did when Robert De Niro started releasing 6 movies a year, not all of them great. It’s time now for “Freeheld”, the score for the movie about staring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell, Luke Grimes, and Michael Shannon which is based on the 2007 documentary short film of the same name about police officer Laurel Hester’s fight against the Ocean County, New Jersey Board of Chosen Freeholders to allow her pension benefits to be transferred to her domestic partner after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Hans wrote this one with Johnny Mar, the guitarist who is featured on two of the most magnificent scores of recent years, “Inception” and “The Amazing Spiderman 2”.

It’s all Johnny Marr in the opening cue “On the case”, a cue which reminds me of the raw, grungy guitar moments from the Twin Peaks soundtrack. It has the same reverb and sound which makes it sound cool and very biker bar like. Hans interferes with some ambient moments that I hope will be developed in the score. Luckily the next cue “Can I have your number” does that and confirms that 2015 is the year of minimalism. There’s nothing really special about this cue, I’ve heard it a lot of times before, not from Hans Zimmer though. It’s nice but I will forget it soon as it’s over.

I am having conflicting feelings as this score progresses. “House hunting” sounds like the instrumental version of a country song; again, very nice cue, but quite generic… it’s that country romance that makes me dream about sitting by the fire on a cold autumn’s day in the open air. It’s a harmless piece of music that makes me smile and that’s it.

But this is Hans Zimmer and the music speaks for him and makes me shut up. The 7 minutes long “Can’t leave her” has all the heart and emotion a story like this could ask for. The cue is quiet and intense… melodic and heartbreaking… a theme on which the piano slowly fades away as it plays the deepest emotions and regrets. This piece is worth the price of the album alone… it also marks the moment where the score changes and enters a state of melodic grace. All my doubts and worries were cast aside with a gentle musical touch by these two wonderful musicians…

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 15 / 28

Album excellence: 54%


Can’t Leave Her

The Decision


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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