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Soundtrack review: My name is Lenny (Ian Arber – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: My name is Lenny (Ian Arber – 2017)

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Directed by Ron Scalpello, “My Name is Lenny” presents an account on the life of Britain’s most notorious bare-knuckle fighter Lenny McLean, also known as “The Guv’nor.” Played by Josh Helman (Commander Stryker from the new generation of X-Men films, Mad Max: Fury Road) McLean was an institution of the British fighting scene with a self-proclaimed number of 4000 fights – he also had strong ties to the London underworld, a fact he relished when playing the role of ‘Barry The Baptist’ in Guy Ritchie’s gangster comedy Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Ian Arber wrote the score.

I had no idea who Lenny McLean was but I do know that Barry the Baptist made an impression in that legendary movie, both by his demeanour and way of talking and I was sure he was a well known British actor; little did I know that he was playing his real life part and that he actually died just before the movie was released. The score opens with the “My name is Lenny suite” and I find myself enjoying a complex dramatic orchestral cue which makes me think of sports drama as it’s inspirational and optimistic and it takes me through the motions of losing, coming back, winning; Ian Arber knows how to write motivational and emotional music and I can’t get enough of this suite as it makes me want to watch inspirational sports stories and feel them and live them.

It’s time for grunge to take over to play the violent part of the story and switch the tone of the score to frantic and dark; I simply feel the need to to turn up the volume in “Bare knuckle” which reserves a quietly emotional surprise at the end. Some of the motifs in this score, like the aggressive bass guitar and percussion in “Street fighter” remind me of Daniel Pemberton’s experiment for “King Arthur: Legend of the sword”; it has the same pace and zest that got to me in “Growing up Londinium”. Then it gets really dark and uncomfortable with “He lives for you” where the electric guitar creates a grounded glass like texture. The score keeps me on my ties as I never know whether the next cue will be dramatic melodic or violent. Ian Arber also writes ambient electronic cues like “I’m gonna to top you one day”.

The overall sound of “My name is Lenny” is dark and electric; the raw guitar sound is abrasive and gives the music the violent edge it needs which the dramatic suite balances it with melodies. Usually I expect the suite to be a collection of the best motifs and elements from the score but it’s not the case here as it should have probably be called “My name is Lenny – the drama suite” since it’s the only cue alongside the end theme “The gov’nor” that deals with emotions other than rage. Still I enjoyed both sides of Ian Arber’s composition and I am looking forward to seeing the movie and appreciating the music in context as well.

Cue rating:  90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 22 / 44

Album excellence: 51%

Highlights:
My Name Is Lenny (Suite)
Bare Knuckle
Street Fighter
The Re-Match
The Decider
The Guv’nor

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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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