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Feb 18, 2007

SCOREcard - I AM SAM (2001 John Powell)

Recently I had the pleasure of discovering a delightful score that has been sitting on my CD shelf, un-listened to for about 6 years. In fact, someone had given me the DVD for the film as well 5 years ago, and it was when I finally got around to watching this last week that I discovered this score.

The score is John Powell’s I AM SAM (2001 – available on Varese Sarabande) and you would think for a movie like this, it would be the usual emotionally wrought score that feels that it needs to tell the audience how to feel. Instead, Powell has created a whimsical score, heavy on strings – especially acoustic guitar -- that is very simple and is more of a reflection of the state of mind of Sean Penn’s mentally challenged Sam rather than pushing the story line in the audience’s face. There is no monumental swell that cues the audience to cry, nor dark heavy moments that try to spell out that things are not going in Sam’s favor. Instead this is a very under-whelming score (and in this case, I mean that as a compliment) that lets the actors do their business and compliments them instead of trying to enhance or overpower their performances.

There were 2 soundtracks for this movie, I am of course talking now about the score album, but there was another CD that featured Beatles cover tunes – The Beatles are tied into the story – and that is also a good album, especially for a song compilation album (“music from and inspired by”) most of which I usually don’t like at all.

Not to say the movie was that good. I found it a little tedious at times, and over-long at 2 hours +, but the performances are solid (Penn was nominated for an Oscar) and the watch was worth it for the discovery of this score. It makes me wonder what other gems I haven’t listened to yet – one of the drawbacks of having a huge collection is the difficulty in getting to everything right away.

It’s probably a difficult CD to find these days as I’m sure there wasn’t a huge demand for it, so you’re probably going to need to find soundtrack dealers or rely on Ebay if you want to add it to your collection. Although, checking Amazon.com, I do see they have it in stock for $17.98 (USD).

Next SCOREcard, Thomas Newman’s Oscar nominated Max Steiner/1940’s WB homage, THE GOOD GERMAN.