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Freeheld by Hans Zimmer & Johnny Marr (Review)

posted Oct 11, 2015, 10:04 PM by Kaya Savas

Freeheld sees Hans Zimmer teaming up with Johnny Marr for this short yet emotionally engaging score. Hans of course used Johnny famously on his score for Inception. Marr’s guitar work is put into good use here on Freeheld as the score stays restrained for a much larger emotional effect. The film is about the true story of Laurel Hester and her battle to secure her pension and benefits to be passed to her partner Stacie Andree after Laurel is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Hans and Johnny do a great job here in what easily could have been a sappy and saccharine score, but instead feels organic and in-tune with the characters instead of the “message”.

The score here just reaches a 30-minute running time on the album, so you know right off the bat that the music only comes in when it’s needed. What we have here is music that feels stylistically similar in some aspects to Hans' scores to Inception and Interstellar. He really has been playing with minimalism in his music in some fashion recently, and while it’s not traditional minimalism in the sense of say Philip Glass, it’s trying to say as much as it can by doing as little as it can. I mentioned earlier that the score avoided being schmaltzy and saccharine, which is great. Usually movies with a deep message like this one try to focus too much on the message itself and lose sight of the characters. Thankfully here the music stays on-point with our characters and echoes the fragile nature of their humanity and the love they share. Hans does emotional builds very well, and you’ll get some of that towards the end of the score. Marr’s guitar work adds the perfect texture that compliments Hans’ electronic approach. That guitar is being played by a human being, so that added organic feel does make a difference in the whole scope of the score.

Freeheld is effective in what it sets out to do. It’s not a showy score or deeply thematic. But its minimal and looping melodic approach complimented with Marr’s guitar work does give the whole thing an organic emotional pull. The music feels like it’s speaking to the characters and their relationship versus calling attention to the social message of the film. It’s a touching little portrait of two people and their struggle, a window into two lives. It’s also something we don’t hear from Hans too much these days as he’s called upon to score every superhero film there is. Freeheld is an intimate score that should speak to everyone.