Aimee Mann got a lot of attention for her song score to Magnolia, which was so closely integrated into the film that, on occasion, the characters sang along with her. But there was plenty of other music in the three-hour film, and Jon Brion's orchestral score also had time to make an impression. In fact, despite the hoopla surrounding Mann's work, it may be that Brion's music more closely mirrors the film's themes. Magnolia is a slowly paced, episodic film with a varying tone, and Brion captures all that in long instrumental pieces that employ repetition and alternation of instruments to achieve differing effects. One is sometimes reminded of Philip Glass in Brion's elliptical structures, but his music is far more playful, far less anxious than Glass' scores. Sometimes the strong orchestral themes are in contrast to the gritty nature of the film, so that the music comments ironically, lifting the mood; at other times the music reflects what's happening on screen exactly. But since the film is so deliberate, Brion is allowed much more time to sustain and develop his themes than is typical in film music, and the result is a score that works much more coherently away from the film than most.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|Magnolia, film score|