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Soundtrack review: Going in style (Rob Simonsen – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Going in style (Rob Simonsen – 2017)

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“Going in Style” is a 2017 American heist comedy film directed by Zach Braff and written by Theodore Melfi. A remake of the 1979 film of the same name, it stars Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Joey King, Matt Dillon, Christopher Lloyd, Ann-Margret and John Ortiz, and follows a trio of retirees who plan to rob a bank after their pensions are cancelled. Rob Simonsen wrote the score. I watched the movie in the cinema and I loved it and even noticed the music in context because even with lighter topics and shorter scores a composer like Rob Simonsen knows to how make the most of them. There are only 12 minutes of score and usually I don’t review scores that are less than 15 minutes long but it’s Rob Simonsen and I had fun with the movie.

I mean I think it would be a shame for people to miss the whistling and jazzy joy of “Opening” which is but a minute long and has time to build up into a jolly orchestral red carpet to usher us into this score. There’s melody, there’s a flute, there’s a burst of energy, what’s not to like? “Foreclosure notice” follows and it’s a sweet but sad solo piano theme that just charms me from beginning to end as I see the bittersweet looks on those great actors faces in the scene. There is a motif in here, a sneaky bass motif that makes me instantly think of Alan Arkin and his grumpy shenanigans.

“Willie and Kay” is just 36 seconds long but man oh man it’s a charming and innocent piano insert that is enough to make me care for the characters all over again. I just pause and listen to it again because it sticks to me and makes me dream of beautiful things. 36 seconds. Rob Simonsen doesn’t need more and I don’t need more. Film music can have meaning no matter how small the dose.

There is a consistent piece of music on this score, if you need one: “Rat pack robbery” the central point of the movie, which is your regular heist scene melody complete with a bit of suspense and with a horn section that expresses the danger. I am more attracted to the other nuggets of melody because it is fascinating to me how cues that short can mean so much. “FBI closes in” is the most delightful 30s style foxtrot cue complete with trumpet and the fast paces bass. Man oh man I am glad I didn’t miss this score and particularly this piece.

The charm of the movie transpires into the music as well; Rob Simonsen’s score has legs even outside the context of the movie and I am glad I decided to write about it because this composer keeps giving me with every new compositions reasons to consider him among my favourites.

Cue rating: 91 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 4 / 12

Album excellence: 34%

Highlights:
Opening
Willie and Kay
FBI Closes In
The Wedding

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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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