Aaron Zigman – The Jane Austen Book Club *Review In English*

“It can be said that THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB has turned Aaron Zigman to be an amateurish version of Thomas Newman.”

Soundtrack Label: Varese Sarabande

THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB is a romantic drama involving six Jane Austen’s novels; EMMA, SENSE AND SENSIBILTY, PERSUASION, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, NORTHANGER ABBEY, and MANSFIELD PARK. The film is based on a novel with the same name by Karen Joy Fowler whose main story is about five women and one man who together start a meeting group named the Jane Austen Book Club. Each member has to take on each book and hosts the group once a month to discuss about it. Interestingly, in every club meeting, they will also realize that those picked novels have some parallels to their lives.

I have remembered that my last time with Aaron Zigman’s score; MY SISTER KEEPER was not good (the review is in Thai language). His score neither pointed out something outstanding nor emotional enough to be worth recognizing. It barely crossed the average bar despite his long existence in the industry. As for THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK, though it has no indication of his best work at all, it has something to mention a bit.

By nature, THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB suits Zigman’s resume of scoring many light drama flicks. But this time, he comes up with the idea of experimenting various instruments such as banjo, accordion, and unusual types of clarinets and guitars in order to add some fresh and lively sounds to the score. Zigman’s style this time easily reminds me of Thomas Newman’s style, both term of sound and (short) track length. Still, the overall score is somehow unprofessionally handled.

Like many Zigman’s scores in album version, I don’t know if I should either blame the label or composer because most of the track falls really short and separately disjoint (I have a feeling that they could have arranged some short suites out of them). Also, the significance of thematic materials has dropped accordingly. Prudie Sees Trey and The Buffy Conference hint me some motifs which I would never notice if I have not tried listening to them close enough. Now that I hear them, they are however pretty average and they rarely get decent development. The first motif from Prudie Sees Trey is lightly percussive and it has later been adapted to book club’s introduction tracks such as February Reading, March Book Club, June Book Club, April Book Club, and May Book Club. The good thing is that these tracks don’t sound the same totally and the last track surprisingly differentiates itself by being slow-paced and relaxing. But, seriously, they are still one-minute and the other 4 less-than-minute tracks which don’t do anything much for me.

The next motif is from The Buffy Conference with the delight of strings, guitar, and accordion. Unfortunately, it is used in many short tracks I am not really interested in. For instance, the ridiculously shortest moment of the album titled Trash in Car.

Among many mediocre and unfulfilled executions here, some good things are yet to be found. Trey Comes On To Prudie is the longest and finest one. I just love how Zigman is able to translate character’s shyness and her deep curiosity to this melodic harmony which I can listen over and over again. In addition, the airy piano tempo at the end has added some delightful value to it. This tempo can also be obviously noticed again in Changing Clothes which is listenable as usual, although it is disturbingly short! Daniel Breaks Up, Jocelyn Gets Vulnerable, Grigg Emails, and Allegra Ticked Off are pretty short too but there are some touching moments to feel as well. Finally, The Jane Austen Book Club Ending delivers a charming finale (oddly, it is not the last track on the album) with warmth and a sudden Bollywood strike at the end.

In conclusion, it can be said that THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB has turned Aaron Zigman to be an amateurish version of Thomas Newman. Many sprightly experimental sounds have offered something quite better than his predictable style. Nevertheless, the complete yet unorganized presentation on the album as well as the score’s own weakness in amount and structural quality make it worth only for some casual visit such as reading a novel for 30 minutes.

Tracklist

01. Prudie Sees Trey (***)

02. The Buffy Conference (***)

03. The Airport (***)

04. Trey Comes On To Prudie (*****)

05. Jocelyn & Grigg (***)

06. February Reading (***)

07. Daniel Breaks Up (****)

08. March Book Club (***)

09. Changing Clothes (****)

10. Jocelyn Gets Vulnerable (****)

11. Ten Days With Mother (***)

12. Bernadette & Prudie (***)

13. June Book Club (***)

14. Sylvia & Jocelyn (***)

15. A Little Romance (***)

16. At The Bar (***)

17. Porch Intrigue (***)

18. Grigg Emails (****)

19. Sky Has To Leave (***)

20. Daniel Crossing (***)

21. The Traffic Light (***)

22. April Book Club (***)

23. The Funeral (***)

24. May Book Club (***)

25. The Jane Austen Book Club Ending (****)

26. Allegra Ticked Off (****)

27. Trash In Car (**)

28. Head On Daniel (***)

29. Excuse Us (***)

Grade: C

Note: Starting with this review, I am going to use Grade instead of Final Score so that my judgement can be more understandable.

Buy It @Boomerang

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