Film scores

Soundtrack review: Remember (Mychael Danna – 2016)

“Remember” is a 2015 Canadian drama film, directed by Atom Egoyan and written by Benjamin August. The film stars Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Dean Norris, Bruno Ganz, Heinz Lieven, Jürgen Prochnow, Henry Czerny and Kim Roberts. With the aid of a fellow Auschwitz survivor and a hand-written letter, an elderly man with dementia goes in search of the person responsible for the death of his family. It’s comforting to see legends like Plummer and Landau still bringing us joy with their craft. The score is written by Mychael Danna, this time without his brother. Somehow this story seems fitting for a serious composer like him who rarely shines but always delivers solid film music.

I am surprised by the ever changing tones in the music. I expected something beautiful and linear but the first few cues feel like a stormy day when the weather and winds change direction and intensity by the minute. The music is alive and the instruments are all on alert and they chase each other and play with each other. The violin is there because it’s like the official instrument of World War II scores but the music of “Remember” is so much more than that; the flute and the brass create suspense and make this musical picture a moving one.

Sometimes there’s a dark irony in the music that makes me think of Carter Burwell’s scores for Coen brothers movies or Howard Shore’s composition for Davin Cronenberg films. The composer doesn’t want us to get too emotional or even depressed; he wrote a score that keeps me guessing and wondering, a score that has that feeling of rolling towards an implacable and bloody conclusion. I’ve rarely heard Mychael Danna so experimental and dark. A cue like “Stand by the window” actually makes my skin crawl and I could hear it work on a horror film as well.

The theme of the movie is revenge and the composer sure took it seriously. I listen to the score and I hear the back and forth between memories and the determination about the future. Different shades of dark come together in “Remember” and in a very clever way a lot of cues seem unfinished or just experiments, mirroring the mindset of the main character.

“Remember” is an interesting and intriguing musical journey into the mind and soul of a troubled character. I can’t imagine the music being about anything external to his quest because almost every cue made me relate to it and feel something. The music felt so raw and honest that It could only express the internal mirror each of us has, a place we think no one else can see and where we can stop pretending. Definitely one of the more memorable Mychael Danna scores.

Cue rating: 85 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 17 / 60

Album excellence: 28%

Highlights:

Answer Me

Mr. Guttman

It Was Not Him

Zev’s Journey

Awaiting Kurlander

Aftermath / The Phone Call

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).

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment