Thomas Newman – The Help (Score) *Review In English*

“THE HELP is another Newman’s magnificent score that purely delivers an emotional drive for human being.”

Soundtrack Label: Varese Sarabande

THE HELP is a drama film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel. Setting the 1960s Mississippi where the racism was the topic, the story is about a recently graduated and ambitious writer Skeeter who decides to write a book detailing African-American maids’ point of view on the white families they work for as well as the hardships they go through daily. Skeeter has Aibileen and Minny as her cooperative partners in the beginning and they agree to do it secretly including keeping it from her arrogant racist friend Hilly.

The drama genre has always been Thomas Newman’s specialized area in film music and we know it is hard to resist that fact when he is in. For THE HELP, it reminds me a bit of his touching and fun score for FRIED GREEN TOMATOES (a 1991 drama which has an alike racist issue) but with some refreshment derived from his lately modern approach in THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, specifically the percussive section.

Of course, there is no obvious central theme to the score. His well-known execution on it with various beautifully atmospheric melodies and some particular motifs still rules it. The first key motif is heard in the opening track Aibileen. In the first half, it contains a compassionate string performance which can be felt over the score as background. Accordingly, it is also developed to its satisfying points in My Son‘s first half and a very sorrowful Constantine. Then, for the second half of the track, it turns to a brighter side where we can find piano and flute giving us the feeling of hope.

The next track Them Fools still contains a compassionate mood but more melodically. The piano-driven motif which takes over 2/3 of the track here is simply stunning. And, in case some of you may feel something familiar, this motif is the same motif heard in Mary J. Blige’s The Living Proof which is co-composed by Newman himself as well (the song can be found on the Various Artists album). This motif can also be heard throughout the score but not as significant as the sprightly last quarter of the track which can be heard later in Gripping Testimonials with some stylish move. However, its return in the final track Ain’t You Tired (End Title) is definitely something worthy. This track is a fuller presentation of the motif which is accomplished emotionally by piano, highlighted string performances, and composer’s woodwind trademark.

For other noticeable motifs, there are the joyous Upside-Down Cake and Heart Palpitations where acoustic instruments are well-mixed with some crystal synthetic sounds. Jim Crow and the second half of My Son have acoustic elements for some small gentle moments. The character Hilly also has her individual as wicked string motif which is heard in the sneaky Miss Hilly and the humorous The Terrible Awful.

Out of the mentioned motifs, Mississippi and Bottom Of The List are in somewhat dark corner of the score but they will be really good tracks if you are the fans who are eager to hear his whispering woodwind and dreamy atmosphere (I know I am the one for that).

In conclusion, THE HELP is another Newman’s magnificent score that purely delivers an emotional drive for human being. For new comers, it may not be highly noticeable on the first listen but it is guaranteed to grow on you. As for Newman’s fans, you won’t find anything such as his brand new trademark but it is still a very pleasant hour to sit through and witness some slight growth of his usually lovable materials.

Tracklist

01. Aibilene (*****)

02. Them Fools (*****)

03. Upside-Down Cake (****)

04. Mississippi (*****)

05. Heart Palpitations (*****)

06. The Help (****)

07. Jim Crow (****)

08. Skeeter (****)

09. Miss Hilly (****)

10. Write That Down (****)

11. Bottom Of The List (*****)

12. Deviled Eggs (****)

13. First White Baby (****)

14. Celia Digs (****)

15. November 22 (****)

16. Not To Die (****)

17. My Son (*****)

18. Trash On The Road (****)

19. The Terrible Awful (****)

20. Constantine (*****)

21. Gripping Testimonials (****)

22. Sugar (****)

23. Amen (****)

24. Mile High Meringue (****)

25. Ain’t You Tired (End Title) (*****)

Final Score: 8.5

Buy It @Amazon

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