Mark Isham

Reservation Road [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Composer Mark Isham had to come up with a dark score for director Terry George's suburban family nightmare film Reservation Road, based on a novel by John Burnham Schwartz about a child who is killed by a hit-and-run driver and the subsequent interaction between the child's grieving father and the guilt-ridden driver (who, in the sort of plot twist beloved by middle-brow novelists and Hollywood screenwriters, is hired unknowingly by the father as his lawyer). But Isham has to an extent worked against the melodramatic aspects of the movie, turning in a series of musical cues that are somewhat ambient and minimalist. Individual instruments, especially reeds (bassoon, clarinet), low strings (a cello), and Isham's own piano play slow, single-note passages in echoey, resonant mixes over eerie arrangements of strings or electronic pulses. Minor-key and occasionally dissonant, they maintain a mood of disturbed contemplation until interrupted here and there by thudding percussion. The entry of synthesizers into film scoring has sometimes blurred the line between music and sound effects, and so it is here when a moment of tension or violent action is suggested. Isham's thoughtful work brings depth to a film that critics tended to find closer to soap opera than tragedy.

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