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Soundtrack review: Hotel Artemis (Cliff Martinez – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Hotel Artemis (Cliff Martinez – 2018)



“Hotel Artemis” is a 2018 American dystopian neo-noir crime film written and directed by Drew Pearce, in his directorial debut. It stars Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Tyree Henry, Jenny Slate, Dave Bautista, and Zachary Quinto. The plot follows Jean Thomas, a nurse who runs a secret hospital for criminals in futuristic Los Angeles. Cliff Martinez wrote the score and he’s been busy these past few months with scores like “Den of theives”, “Game night” and “The foreigner” all enjoyable.

The score opens with “West coast’s favourite bank” and I don’t have time to wonder which of the Martinez electronic sides I will be listening to this time, the industrial uncomfortable one of the dreamy melodic because within a minute I get a sample of both; the music is leaning towards the raw and aggressive with melodic inserts. With a composer like Cliff Martinez who has developed such a unique identity for his music, there really are no surprises; for me this is a good thing because I am a fan of electronic music and his brand is one of the tastiest. He is a master at creating a noir, neon flickering atmosphere that doesn’t need the support of the images to feel captivating. I can imagine the dark corridors, the shady characters, the metallic taste of weapons, bullets and pipes and neon lights reflecting in the windshields of cars at night.

“Hotel Artemis” is definitely a score for Cliff Martinez fans; the composer spices up his usual sound with electric guitar inserts and a pounding percussion that often invites me to just turn up the volume to better immerse myself in this noir atmosphere. There’s also the nostalgia factor brought by this sound and even if the score is mostly grounded glass like, there are reflective passages that I just love. I feel that this score is not as linear as other Martinez compositions and I like that because it keeps me wanting to hear more, to discover what hides int he next cue.

There are few composers capable of creating such a dense noir atmosphere; don’t expect warmth or melodies coming into this score, expect a harsh and sharp sound that will suck you in and grind you away. Cliff Martinez knows what he does and he continues to do it well and “Hotel Artemis” is just the kind of project where he thrives. This score is not about highlights or specific memorable cues, it’s all about the overall sound and atmosphere it creates.

Cue rating: 67 / 100

Getting out is always tougher

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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