Film scores

Soundtrack review: Money monster (Dominic Lewis – 2016)

Album Artwork

“Money Monster” is a 2016 American crime thriller drama film directed by Jodie Foster and written by Alan Di Fiore, Jim Kouf and Jamie Linden. The film stars George Clooney (who also co-produced) as Lee Gates, a TV personality who advises his audience on commerce and Wall Street, and who is forcefully interrogated by Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), a grief-stricken bankrupt viewer who lost his money after a previous tip; the film also stars Julia Roberts, Dominic West, Giancarlo Esposito and Caitriona Balfe. Dominic Lewis wrote the score. I see Henry Jackman is credited as producer of the score.

Just as dark thrillers as of late have developed a certain sound that most composers seem to embrace, so the “Wall Street thriller” genre which has been quite present in the past few years has started to get a similar treatment. The music is rarely epic or loud; it’s rather slim and sharp like a business suit, with a slightly electronic sound as if to suggest the gadgets and screens and the stride I imagine comes at the beginning of every trading day. I love the excitement of the “Opening bell”.

The composer also uses sounds that make me think of coins or keys jingling. I hear all sorts of interference, mostly in the closing cue “Global players” which is a rich experimental cue that somehow makes me think of the music from the TV show “Person of interest”. Especially the ending of the score give me the impression of a cliff hanger or big reveal.

“Money monster” separates itself from other scores in the genre through those special little experimental sound inserts the composer (or maybe score producer Henry Jackman since he is into this) introduces in his cues to make the music somehow sound electric and pulsating. There are other moments when the score doesn’t make a lot of sense on its own. For example the longest cue “Hostile takeover” is surprisingly sneaky and slow burning at first for such a title. I suppose I will have to see the movie in order for this particular moment to make more sense. Or maybe the composer wanted to musically express the heart rates and pulses of those involved in the scene. This is the biggest quality of the score for me: the way the music feels visceral and alive, the way Dominic Lewis made it sound as if it comes from the hearts, brains and lungs of those involved.

Since Jackman is involved I will say about “Money monster” what I said about his “Winter soldier” score: some musical choices probably make more sense in the context of the movie than as standalone music. I am intrigued by the experimental sound and the score makes me curious to see the movie. The composer chose to approach even the market crash with a soft touch and I want to know why.

While not the easiest listen, “Money monster” intrigued me and I will come back to it after I see the movie.

Cue rating: 80 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 6 / 39

Album excellence: 16%

Highlights:

Opening Bell

Market Crash

Closing Bell

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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