James Newton Howard

Michael Clayton [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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    4
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The fuzzy, unfocused portrait of star George Clooney that adorns the cover of Michael Clayton is perfectly suited to James Newton Howard's original score, which lacks clarity and detail in spades. Howard seems almost averse to melody and thematic development here, instead favoring dull, amorphous electronic washes owing more to ambient music than conventional Hollywood scoring. But even from a purely textural standpoint, Michael Clayton falls short -- Howard consistently fails to suggest emotion, drama, or tension, instead crafting wan soundscapes free of context and amounting to nothing more substantive than the absence of silence.

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