Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Double Score Review

Check it out... if the gloom and repetitiveness of previous Hewitt works suit your preferences enough to last you through a 52 minute long album.

Skip it... if you'd rather stay clear away from the slow, mournful music that Hewitt has provided in prior releases, for this is more of his usual work, only extended to a greater running time. 

"It's not very unique, interesting, or impressive; even the small moments of uniqueness are unpleasant."

"Director Richard Ayoade, star of the hit British comedy The IT Crowd, helms The Double; a film centred around Simon (Jesse Eisenberg), whose unenviable life is flipped on it's head when a new coworker arrives at his workplace, and appears to be both an exact physical lookalike, and a completely opposite person to himself; his lookalike is charming, confident and seductive, everything that Simon is not." With such a description as that, it's surprising that The Double has pulled in relatively poor international box office success. Many would find this quite astounding, considering it's large amount of critical acclaim and diverse cast, yet alas, the film only turned in $1.45 million in it's entire theatrical run. Considered thrillingly ambitious and inventive by the vast majority of critics, as well as myself, who had the opportunity to view the film, The Double had the critical acclaim required to really stir up the indie film community. Unfortunately, based on that slight figure, such stirring never really seemed to occur. Nevertheless, the music to the film was released to the public recently; composed by Andrew Hewitt, a somewhat new and unknown composer, it has peaked minor interest. Hewitt's previous pieces of work, including The Sea and Submarine, hold a lot of promise, though the down point to both albums is the execution; they're either mindbogglingly short, or the instrumentation and thematic material leaves much to be desired. Hewitt's most common trait is the former reasoning, which is quite a defining factor in nearly all his work. One of the albums I mentioned earlier, Submarine, includes a total of 15 tracks on the card, but holds just over 18 minutes of material within. His work's translation to album never seems to prove a great success, is my meaning. Nonetheless, The Double is a film which seems to suit Hewitt's usual edginess in tone, so this may very well be Hewitt's opportunity to finally break through the cracks, shine, and capture the attention of score lovers all over.

However, though, Hewitt's The Double is no such result. Despite all the indications leading into this score, Hewitt's efforts are anything but impressive, nor enjoyable. There are scores which I can appreciate for the composer's intentions and execution, despite my dislike for the material, but The Double does not fit into this category. It's a particularly sombre, deflated score, that will never cease to amaze you as to how lifeless it can be. There are only so many times a solo, pianissimo piano can be used to decent effect, and when overused to such a point as it is here, it can be an incredibly tiring thing. Hewitt's usual brevity is here within a number of cues, and this does aid the album when everything seems to turn unbearably repetitive, another Hewitt trait; breaks are incredibly necessary when discussing and examining something so intentionally monotonous. Sitting at 52 minutes long, with a total number of 24 tracks included, The Double is an unrelenting, unusually long score for someone such as Hewitt. As I mentioned before in this piece, Hewitt is quite well known for his seemingly dismissive attitude in regards to length, or so it seems this way listening to his music. Perhaps lengthy cues weren't so necessary for his previous films, and a score wasn't as vital to the final product. Here, during The Double, it's obvious based on the length of the album that more work was called upon, and perhaps that's good; to urge Hewitt out of his usual brief tendencies would make for much better paced scores I believe. Yet Hewitt's answer to being called upon to create more original material leads him to repeat himself an awful lot, and this leads into an utter lack of consideration in regards to improving and expanding ideas and concepts. Hewitt takes a theme he introduced previously, and instead of elaborating on what he's created in prior cues, he simply rehashes what we're already aware of. This can make for some awfully tedious music, which shouldn't bode well with the vast majority of listeners. 

The repetitive nature of this album isn't so much the most irritating issue with what Hewitt's provided though, I've found; it's the complete lack of originality. I've been exposed to a number of thriller scores, and the hard-hitting strings, alongside the oft-times heavy-handed piano is nothing at all new, nor is it enjoyable or pleasant in this case. Is it thrilling though? I cannot say so; the pace is simply too adagio to consider any of the material particularly fear inducing or heart-pumping, and everything included on the album seems overtly off key; it's as if Hewitt is trying far too hard to make you feel uncomfortable. The main theme, one of the cues which does try so desperately hard to set the mood to a creepy and tense one, also seems to take it's main leitmotif from a number of Zimmer pieces, notably Inception's Time cue, as well as The Da Vinci Code's Chevaliers De Sangreal, both of which have the slow 8 bar ostinato to climax that Zimmer is so very fond of. Hewitt's attempts to replicate the grandeur that both cues hold (In my eyes at least), whilst supposedly reinventing the concept in his own, original way is utterly poor to say the least. The rest of the score take primarily from this example, reusing the old, hard-hitting, slow piano for little effect. Strings are thrown into the mix every now and again, though they provide little more than accompaniment for that main grand piano. It's all centred around that particularly irritating leitmotif, and it leaves much to be desired.

Despite the majority of this score's material adhering to the description I examined just earlier, Hewitt has taken various efforts to try and develop somewhat unique and original concepts, and not all are overtly bland and disappointing. Mr Papadopoulos, a cue which takes measures to develop a rhythm out of what seems like the clicking of typewriter keys, is a bold step towards actual innovation and originality, though it's a short-lived victory; our grand piano rejoins quickly enough into the next few cues to sap out any fun or quirkiness the score held for a brief period. The bonus tracks included on the album (Which confuses me; why are they considered bonus tracks if they're all included on the original release?) sport a few of the highlights of the score, including the 8 bit-like Melanie's Computer Game, which is an awfully welcome stab of nostalgia. It's these cues that save The Double from transcending into the "completely worthless" category, though this still doesn't rectify the numerous faults that can be found within; the boring, slow pace, the constantly try-hard leitmotifs, the overly sombre tone. It all makes for a rather joyless experience. Maybe I'm missing something, as I undoubtedly was with my Under The Skin review, as many like to tell me, but this just doesn't appeal to me in any sense of the word. Many will enjoy it, I'm sure, but for my taste, The Double is a lackluster trudge through saddening and imperfect music. The Double is available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes, here and here.



Track Listing

1.Sukiyaki (Kyu Sakamoto)3:08
2.The Double Theme (Version 1)3:43
3.Mr Papadopoulos1:27
4.Watching Hannah1:17
5.East Virigina (Danny & The Islanders)2:26
6.You're Not Meant to Be Here1:39
7.Splendour in the Grass (Sougenno Kagayaki) (Jacky Yoshikawa & His Blue Comets)2:48
8.Simon and James1:50
9.The Switch, Pt. 12:07
10.The Switch, Pt. 21:10
11.Blue Chateau (Jacky Yoshikawa & His Blue Comets)2:44
12.I Am a Ghost1:34
14.A Boy Held Up by String1:13
15.The Double Theme (Version 2)3:43
16.Simon in the Ambulance1:50
17.The Sun (Kim Jung Mi)6:51
18.BONUS TRACKS: The Replicator (Opening Titles)1:34
19.Colloc Commercial0:56
20.Melanie's Computer Game0:39
21.The Replicator (Underscore)2:52
22.The Replicator (Love Theme)1:56
23.The Game Show0:40
24.The Two Dancing Girls1:49
 Total Album Time:51:45

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