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Soundtrack review: White boy Rick (Max Richter – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: White boy Rick (Max Richter – 2018)

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“White Boy Rick” is a 2018 American crime comedy-drama film directed by Yann Demange and written by Andy Weiss, and Logan and Noah Miller. Based on a true story, the film stars Richie Merritt as Richard Wershe Jr., who in the 1980s became the youngest FBI informant ever at the age of 14. Matthew McConaughey, Bel Powley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brian Tyree Henry, Rory Cochrane, RJ Cyler, Jonathan Majors, Eddie Marsan, Bruce Dern, and Piper Laurie also star.In 1980s Detroit, Richard Wershe Jr. was a street hustler, FBI informant and drug kingpin—all before he turned sixteen. The story was not widely known until 2014, when Atavist published a long article by Evan Hughes, “The Trials of White Boy Rick”, that became a finalist for a National Magazine Award. Max Richter wrote the score.

The film music world is quite crowded with all kinds of composers, personalities, sounds, some similar, others different and it’s easy to get lost or to have a hard time isolating the particular feelings constantly brought by one single composer; sometimes opinions change over the years or people write differently sometimes, anyway for there’s always been two composers who have somehow synced the most with my way of feeling, with my way of experiencing the world, two composers who have similarly had their imagination take them often beyond film music with musical compositions outside this realm as well, composes with a certain sensitivity and a certain way of expanding the doors of perception, an ironic way of putting thing since the direction of their music has always been inward, exploratory, magnifying minimalism. One of them unfortunately died earlier this year, Johan Johannsson and now Max Richter finds himself alone on this very short and special list to me.

Max continues to do his thing, his own special, unique thing regardless of story, script, restrictions. I know that when I listen to a Max Richter score it will have an enriching emotional impact even when it’s now always melodic and warm; “White boy rick” does not dive at the same depth as, say, Max’s candidate for score of the year 2018 “Hostiles” but boy does it have moments that show me why my faith in this composer will never falter, cues like “Nonviolent offender”. Even in more opaque, electronic moments such as “What’s my take”, where a more industrial atmosphere takes over I can hear that sensitivity, that care that never leaves Max Richter’s music.

“White boy Rick” is another gift for lovers of dark, minimalistic thriller music. This is a character driven score, if I can make this analogy. The music explores the emotions of the main character, from tension to fear to the poignant love in “Baby Keisha”, a cue reminiscent of Max’s unreal “The leftovers” score. The emotional moments are rare but made an impact among the more alert, jumpy pieces. The modern electronic sounds in cues like “Wershe & son” also brings me the dose of nostalgia I’m always looking for in music; it’s a nice and reflective winter like melody.

This is what this score brought for me; I’m sure you too will find something to connect with inside it.

Cue rating: 87 / 100

Highlights:
Nonviolent Offender
Baby Keisha
Wershe & Son
Trigger
The Jury’s Verdict
We’re Gonna Take You Home
All alone

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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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