Film composer James Newton Howard marks his fifth collaboration with director M. Night Shyamalan on Lady in the Water. Shyamalan, of course, is known for his imaginative, sometimes surrealistic mystery films The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, and The Village, and Lady in the Water is another of them, with its story of a nymph residing in and around the pool at an apartment complex. Howard has at his disposal a large orchestra and chorus, and he uses them to create music that is often swirling and circular, with some conventional moments of exciting anticipation or climax here and there. One obvious influence is Philip Glass, although Howard's music rarely displays Glass' rhythmic urgency to go with its short, repetitive figures. Rather, the real antecedent for this score is Ennio Morricone's classic music to the classic film Days of Heaven (1978). In fact, there are moments when Howard's score seems practically identical to Morricone's. That score takes up 42 of the nearly 60 minutes on the soundtrack album, the rest given over to four covers of Bob Dylan songs. The six-minute version of "The Times They Are A-Changin'" by A Whisper in the Noise is slow and reflective to the point of being soporific; the arrangement seems to go against the point of the lyrics deliberately. Amanda Ghost's "Every Grain of Sand" is also taken slowly, but in a way that is more appropriate to the song's words. Silvertide presents rock renditions of "It Ain't Me Babe" and "Maggie's Farm" that sound like what the Black Crowes would do with them.
Review by William Ruhlmann
|Lady in the Water, film score|
feat: A Whisper in the Noise
feat: Amanda Ghost