Some soundtrack albums are filled with source music, complete versions of songs heard on the radio or in a club during the scenes in the film. Others present a version of the background score. The soundtrack album for We Own the Night, director James Gray's drama starring Joaquin Phoenix as Bobby Green, the manager of a New York nightclub in 1988 who is caught between his law enforcement relatives and organized crime, does both. The 70-minute disc begins with 11 tracks of music heard in the club, followed by twenty-two-and-a-half minutes of composer Wojciech Kilar's score, as performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic National Orchestra of Poland. From the sound of things, the nightclub, called El Caribe, is both eclectic and slightly out of date, playing early '80s dance-rock hits like Blondie's "Heart of Glass" and "Rapture," David Bowie's "Let's Dance," and the Specials' "Message to You Rudy." The selections become more Latin and move backward in time as the disc goes on, dropping into the '60s for the Jarmels' "A Little Bit of Soap" on the way to '50s material by Louis Prima. The scoring comes in distinct contrast to what has gone before. Kilar occasionally writes intimate, delicate cues such as "Bobby Kiss Amada" and "Bobby and Joe Talk," but for the most part his music is fully orchestrated and dark, with a distinct Romantic classical feel, as if borrowed from some lost Mahler symphony. Presumably, it works for the dramatic moments in the film, after a very different mood has been set by the rhythmic pop songs heard earlier on the CD.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann