Film scores

Soundtrack review: Greater (Stephen Raynor – Endelman – 2016)

“Greater” is a movie about Brandon Burlsworth. He is perhaps the greatest walk-on in the history of college football. Brandon dreamed of playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks, but was told he wasn’t good enough to play Division I ball. Undeterred, Brandon took a risk and walked on in 1994. Written off by fellow teammates and coaches, Brandon displayed dogged determination in the face of staggering odds. The awkward kid who once was an embarrassment to his teammates and an annoyance to his coaches, ended up becoming the most respected player in the history of the program, changing the lives of all he touched. Stephen Raynor – Endelman wrote the score.
I am a huge fan of sports dramas but I always love a happy and inspirational ending. This story ends very sadly though so I’m not sure I’ll have it in me to watch the movie. I am hit straight away when the score starts because “Eating chips” opens in the sweetest and sunniest Thomas Newman style. I feel nothing but joy as I listen to this cue. Despite this optimistic start it’s obvious pretty soon that we are dealing with a drama. “Running in the rain” blends that with an inspirational tone that fits with my idea of sports drama music. I like that the music isn’t superficial and every cue has substance.
I keep trying to think why this scores works so well for me; I think it’s the depth of the composition and that it focuses on the inside of the character, of his thoughts, doubts and tribulations. This is what the composer is telling me through his music and the message gets to me quiet and clear. The instrumentation is also carefully selected and I appreciate that I am getting an orchestral score that feels warm and honest. Dramatic moments like “Your brother is dead” don’t try to cushion the blow.
Sometimes drama scores rely a lot on the on screen images to enhance the emotions. It’s not the case here as Stephen Endelman poured it all in this beautiful composition that moves me and speaks to me. This isn’t the kind of music that necessarily makes me think of a sports drama; it can work for any kind of meaningful dramatic story. There is a section of the score from “2nd montage” down that settles into a lighter comfort zone but this doesn’t hurt the overall listening experience. The inspirational vibe is still there and that matter a lot for a story like this.
I enjoyed “Greater” mostly for its personal approach and for making me care about the character.

Cue rating: 86 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 12 / 36
Album excellence: 33%
Highlights:
Eating chips
After Losing the Game
Your Brother is Dead
Stadium
Mom’s Flashback

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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