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Red Sparrow by James Newton Howard (Review)

posted Mar 9, 2018, 1:39 PM by Kaya Savas

Ever since director Francis Lawrence worked with James Newton Howard on I Am Legend, he has used James as his go-to composer on Water For Elephants, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay parts 1 & 2 and now with Red Sparrow. Red Sparrow is a spy thriller that follows a prima ballerina who ends up in Sparrow School after a career-ending injury. There she learns to use her mind and body as a weapon and emerges as one of the most dangerous Sparrows the program has created. The score by James Newton Howard is a wonderfully crafted and moody thriller score that embraces the main character’s ballerina roots.

We all know how melodic and bold James Newton Howard can be, which is why this very subtle and nuanced score is a fantastic examination of Howard’s skills as a meticulous storyteller. The score acts as an amazing portrait of Dominic Egorova, which is Jennifer Lawrence’s character. While the score’s style and substance has hints of ballet infused into it, it’s definitely drowning in a moody thriller. It’s a perfect embodiment of Egorova’s character. This powerful and elegant woman is thrust into world of espionage and the score is a beautiful fleshing out of her character.

The music does a lot of atmospheric building as well. Deep full-bodied strings with some light accents from woodwinds make up the majority of the score’s structure, and the way Howard lays out his motifs is something only a composer of his ability can accomplish. The score always suggests something is under the surface. The whole narrative is nuanced, seductive and extremely elegant. The music adds so much in a way that only James Newton Howard can.

Howard essentially wrote a ballet overture and then broke it down into a beautifully nuanced thriller score, the result is something that feels so personal and unique to the character at the heart of the story. The music captivates you and washes over you with its tone and atmosphere. The way the score builds the narrative captivates you, and you feel everything swelling and growing underneath as you move towards the climax of the story. Red Sparrow may not have much of an emotional hook, but it’s still a very captivating and engrossing score from James Newton Howard.