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Soundtrack review: Miss Sloane (Max Richter – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Miss Sloane (Max Richter – 2016)

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“Miss Sloane” is a 2016 political thriller film directed by John Madden and written by Jonathan Perera. The film stars Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alison Pill, Jake Lacy, John Lithgow, and Sam Waterston. In the high-stakes world of political power-brokers, Elizabeth Sloane is the most sought after and formidable lobbyist in D.C. But when taking on the most powerful opponent of her career, she finds winning may come at too high a price. Max Richter wrote the score and it’s one of the few times when he scores a thriller.

Max Richter is one of the most lyrical composers out there and I was curious to hear how his music would fit a thriller story. The opening cue “Wheels within wheels” is a change of pace and sound from what I’ve known about Max Richter; it’s a dark and rhythmic electronic piece that sounds almost retro and has a pace becoming of an action thriller. Richter in electronic mode, not bad, not bad at all, especially when he goes even more retro in “Momentum”. I listen to this cue and I feel like I am hearing an 80s synth piece. Already a few cues into this score and I’ve heard a few different genres of music and I liked all of them. No matter what he does with his music, the composer stays warm and melodic.

With “Miss Sloane” he brings his own stamp on to thriller music as he combines the usual electronic pulses and fast paced motifs with the strings and the piano that add extra colour to the cues. When the music goes ambient quiet, like in the dark “Questions and answers” it works even better since this is closer to the pace and mood I was expecting from this composer; this cue is Max Richter at his orchestral and emotional best and the one piece from “Miss Sloane” that links it to his previous work. There is variety in this score as “Hotel for two” is the nicest and most playful little tango and the main motif returns in “Stalking” which is odd since the way the music sounds makes it look like a playful stalking rather than the dangerous kind.

Strangely enough even if the story is serious and dangerous there is barely anything in the music that suggests discomfort; Max Richter chooses to add something like a wink in almost every cue, be it a playful motif, a more cheery mood or a piano insert that suggests hope. When his music gets serious it’s not menacing but emotional like in “She’s standing right there” where the string sound builds up and gets louder as the cue progresses. This is my favourite track from the album.

Max Richter’s take on the electronic and the thriller is a succesfull one as the music was enjoyable from start to finish; even if it didn’t have the emotional depth of a normal Max Richter score it wasn’t supposed to. The music was still rich and varied, from electronic to my favourite ambient to orchestral. I don’t know what the pace of the movie is or how it keeps the viewer invested but the textural score does a good job on its own.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 23 / 46

Album excellence: 49%

Highlights:
Wheels Within Wheels
Questions and Answers
Hotel for Two
Mementum
She Is Standing Right There
Interior Texture
Only Believe
Miss Sloane solo

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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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