TV

Soundtrack review: Confirmation (Harry Gregson Williams – 2016)

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The score wasn’t written to make for a spectacular standalone listen; it was created to enhance the experience of watching the movie.

“Confirmation” is a 2016 American television political thriller film, directed by Rick Famuyiwa and written by Susannah Grant. It is about Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court nomination hearings, and the controversy that unfolded when Anita Hill came forward to say she was a victim of Thomas’ sexual harassment. It stars Kerry Washington as Hill and Wendell Pierce as Clarence Thomas. The score is written by one of my favorite composers, Harry Gregson Williams. For the past few years he’s been writing mostly action scores and it will be interesting see how he approaches this story.

Lately (with the exception of “The Martian”) I’ve been waiting for him to dazzle me again as he used to do in the days of “Spy game” or “Man on fire”. It’s been quite a few years since I guess directors didn’t challenge him enough and maybe asked for “a score that sounds like…”. This time the topic is more serious and, while employing his usual sound techniques, Harry Gregson Williams manages to stir me once again. It’s not easy to write the music for a subject as important and as well-known as this one because the composer doesn’t want to impose and make this all about the music while in the same time providing a rewarding complete experience for the audience.

So we get a cue like “Allegations” for example, somber an serious, with the ghost of a trumpet in the background showing the sensitivity of the story; the allegations aren’t aggressive and flamboyant, they are discrete and almost shy. The music tells me that what happened then wasn’t easy on anyone involved; nothing was clear and obvious and nothing was easy to prove.

The low key tone of the score and the strange lightness in the music make me think of Thomas Newman. “Confirmation” has those solo piano moments that communicate very much to me. There is a permanent contrast between the more energetic moments which play the constant thoughts and tribulation of the characters and the quieter pieces which express doubts.

Harry Gregson Williams’ score made me think. It made me pay serious attention to it and I imagine that coupled with the movie it will make quite an impression. The score wasn’t written to make for a spectacular standalone listen; it was created to enhance the experience of watching the movie. To me it also brought the special kind of nostalgia a Thomas Newman like score has and, in “Hi tech lynching” memories of the way the piano was played in “Spy game”.

Cue rating: 84 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 13 / 39

Album excellence: 33%

Highlights:

02 Black Man In

04 One Of His

07 Anita Visits

12 ‘hi-Tech Lynching’

15  Confirmation

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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