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Soundtrack review: Sully (Clint Eastwood, Christian Jacob and The Tierney Sutton Band – 2016)

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Soundtrack review: Sully (Clint Eastwood, Christian Jacob and The Tierney Sutton Band – 2016)


“Sully” is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood and written by Todd Komarnicki, based on the autobiography Highest Duty by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow. The film stars Tom Hanks as Sullenberger, with Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Autumn Reeser, Holt McCallany, Jamey Sheridan and Jerry Ferrara in supporting roles. The film follows Sullenberger’s January 2009 emergency landing of a commuter jet on the Hudson River, which all 155 passengers and crew survived with only minor injuries, and the subsequent publicity and investigation. Clint, Tom Hanks, I’m in no matter what the story.

As much as I love Clint Eastwood movies there was always something iffy about the scores. I haven’t been able to connect to his way of doing film music and that’s always bothered me. I usually found his music jazzy and undecided. This time he is credited alongside Christian Jacob and The Tierney Sutton Band and things might be different. Also on the album there are seven cues which are not included in the film.

And with all my worries here I find myself, minutes into “Sully suite”, bathing in Moriconne nostalgia as the suave jazzy motifs blend with a female voice humming joyfully and with an optimistic piano as if brought from the Ennio scores of 30 years ago; I discover the same warmth and the same beauty that always got to me in those albums. The music is still undecided but this time it makes sense. The suite sets the mood of a dark jazz lounge filled with smoke where I forget all my worries and just let the music take me over. The suite is also elegant and discrete and these 10 minutes are among the most charming I’ve heard this year. It’s the kind of composition that can make me addicted. It’s a beautiful improvisation and I could listen to it for hours. It makes me nostalgic for cartoon musicals as well with the nice lyrics and soft melody.

This permanent slow dance between the humming, the piano and the soft percussion continues throughout this score; I don’t know how much of this is Clint and how much is the performers but the music brings layer above layer of mist and smoke and I get lost along them as if they were the silky folds of a giant drape. When the voice turns to lyrics it feels even more natural as if the female singer came out of the shadows and took the stage. “Flying home (Sully’s theme)” is soulful, intimate and respectful.

The tone doesn’t change no matter what happens in the movie; the warm and seductive duet between piano and voice goes on eternally as if we were just witnessing a moment in a life, nothing more, nothing less. Melancholy dominates the score but it’s not at all heavy.  “Sully” is simply a beautiful composition. Clint Eastwood’s movies usually focus on the soul and tribulations of his characters rather than on the action and music is introspective as well. I didn’t expect it to be this beautiful though and to make me feel so much joy and respect. Reflective music is my favorite kind and this one is among the best. It also reminded me of simpler and more luminous times from my childhood with this unmistakable vibe and I will keep it close.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 50 / 50

Album excellence: 100%


Sully Suite

Sully Wakes Up

Flying Home (Sully’s Theme)



F4 Malfunction

Hudson View*

Sully Reflects*

I Could Have Lost You


Sully Running*

Times Square


Sully Doubts


Grey Goose With A Splash Of Water



Flying Home* (Alternate Take)





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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  1. Bernice Finlayson 17th October 2016

    I agree with this review with respect to this film. I especially appreciated the music’s subtlety so that at no time did it overtake the story. But then the reason I so enjoy Tierney’s other music is her subtlety and elegance.


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