The Boston Phoenix
The Boston Phoenix weekly reviews both Great Expectations: The Album (soundtrack) and Great Expectations: The Score in the February 12-19, 1998 issue.
1 and a half stars
One of two CDs tied to Alfonso Cuaron's new adaptation of Great Expectations, this disc kicks off with two breathy Tori Amos cuts that, though predictably overproduced, offer the abstract melodrama peculiar to soundtracks, leaning more toward an atmospheric pitch, which becomes her, than radio-tailored neatness. Her passion is persuasive. Erstwhile Stone Temple Pilot Scott Weiland submits a slow, circusy romp whose violin and piano contortions come as a darkly tickling surprise. Mono provide the tune that accompanies the commercials for the flick. If you've seen the ad, you've heard it all there. Chris Cornell's outing reveals his almighty wail as one better suited to big amps than acoustic angst. Reef, Pulp, Duncan Sheik, Poe, the Verve Pipe, Lauren Christy, and Fisher toss up lackluster synthetic dressing for a withered, lost-and-found love-song salad. The Grateful Dead's "Uncle John's Band" and Iggy Pop's "Success" make cameo appearances. But this disc works best as a nostalgic investment, because most of it's the stuff lite-FM-hits radio is made of.
-- Chesley Hicks
Like the film itself, Patrick Doyle's score is slick, shallow, and occasionally haunting. "Estella's Theme" features John Williams's wistful slow Spanish guitar over organ-chord string counterpoint, with a melody that hints at the theme from Ice Castles; it metamorphoses into "Kissing in the Rain" which has a driving bittersweet energy reminiscent of French composer Maurice Jaubert (L'histoire d'Adele H.), and then into the pop Elgar (think "Nimrod") of "The Day All My Dreams Came True." There's also pop Richard Strauss (think Four Last Songs), courtesy of Kiri Te Kanawa's operatic aria "I Saw No Shadow of Another Parting." You could do worse.
The rest is as picture-perfect glossy as stars Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow, with tipoff titles like "A Walk in the Park" and "The Price of Success." There's well-bread vocalise from Tori Amos and Janis Kelly, well-bred cocktail piano from Cyrus Chestnut ("Joe Leaves"), and well-bred jazz from Chestnut ("By the Inch or by the Hour") and James Carter ("The Big Trip") -- everything the hip Manhattanite needs to be, well, hip. In this context even Cesaria Evora ("Besame Mucho" -- which is also on "The Album") sounds uptown.
-- Jeffrey Gantz
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