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Money Monster by Dominic Lewis (Review)

posted May 10, 2016, 4:52 PM by Kaya Savas

Jodie Foster’s directing filmography may not be as robust as some other actors turned directors, but she has given us some memorable films like Little Man Tate, Home For The Holidays, The Beaver and now Money Monster. The film is a dramatic thriller about a popular financial TV host being held hostage on air by a man who lost all his money following the investing tips on the show. The score is by the extremely versatile Dominic Lewis, who has showed immense talents as a musical storyteller so early in his career. Money Monster is a brilliant exercise in precision and was a perfect fit for Lewis. The resulting score is a tight dramatic journey that never becomes too heavy-handed, yet still manages to deliver a deep emotional resonance towards the end.

Dominic Lewis had quite the task at hand here. He had to score this movie in 24 days, and he did it all. The musical style feels a bit familiar to Dominic's score to Spooks, which was another great thriller but this time the score’s structure relies on melodic riffs. The only reason I mention the short timeframe in which Dom had to work in here is not so you have sympathy or forgiveness for any shortcomings, but because I feel that many near-perfect scores are done when you only have time to go with your first and only gut instinct. Whatever magic happens in the brain when decisions need to be made quickly, I think it somehow enhances the final output. Sure, it’s nice to have time to work and reflect and fix. But Money Monster is a stylish thriller with character arcs woven throughout that gets right to the point and does a great job of absorbing the audience into the plot. The synth textures do a great job of echoing the fast-paced and technological world of Wall Street that we live in, and the strings that are laced in give us the emotional resonance we need to connect with the characters. The score has a unique voice overall, and it’s as if Lewis carved the score out with a scalpel. It has the finest precision to hit all the right story beats, and the result is something that normally would be standard fare but instead rises above being just a plot-based score and becoming a character-based one. If there is one thing holding it back, it might be a bolder more graspable central theme. But then again, given the nature of the film that could have added melodrama or turned it into something sappy. So again, it looks like the initial gut reaction was the correct one.

Money Monster is a score that captures the tension and drama of the plot while still making the characters feel real. It’s a near-perfect exercise in precision scoring where synth textures create the style and atmosphere, and Lewis’ talents as a storyteller infuse the emotional resonance we need to actually walk away feeling something. Money Monster shows a lot of growth in Dominic Lewis as a composer. The score doesn’t only add dramatic tension to the plot, but weaves an emotional undercurrent through to add the emotional weight it needs. For a composer to bring all this together under any deadline is very impressive. Even if you take away the short work schedule, the score still stands as a powerfully above-average piece of storytelling that elevates the film immensely. Especially in a genre that has seen its fair share of stale entries in the past. The pairing of a young and able composer with a veteran cast and director worked wonders here.