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Thank You For You Service by Thomas Newman (Review)

posted Oct 30, 2017, 9:08 AM by Kaya Savas

War dramas are always interesting films because war is such a real part of our world, and we see this duty to tell the stories of real people who serve in them. Thank You For Your Service is the directorial debut of Jason Hall who is an actor and screenwriter whose most notable screenwriting effort is American Sniper. With Thank You For Your Service we see another examination of PTSD as soldiers must re-adapt to life back at home. The score comes to us from Thomas Newman, who approaches this story with a restrained approach that allows the music to work under the surface rather than over it.

The score for Thank You For Your Service is not your typical Thomas Newman score in that you won’t see him fully embracing his signature “isms” like he did on war films like Jarhead. This story is about the stress of war, and the score tries to work on a psychological level by being more atmospheric and ambient. The tone is somber and reflective, and it seems to find just the right balance of being present without overpowering. The musical colors and textures that Newman layers in work well, and the overall effect of the score works. It’s just that it seems the overall approach was to err on the side of caution rather than being a little bolder with melody. Since the music was written with a light-handed approach, and with short pieces that are meant to inject into moments rather than guide across the film, the score feels a tad flat. The narrative finds a really nice ending though and is able to close things in a satisfying manner.

Thank You For Your Service is a score that gets the job done by finding the right tone and going for a restrained approach. Thomas Newman doesn’t indulge himself in his usual signature sounds although the score itself is undeniably his voice. Thank You For Your Service is a respectful approach to telling real-life stories of soldiers struggling with PTSD. The score itself could have gone for some bolder choices to really tackle what PTSD is translated into music, but it chose to pinpoint on certain emotions and let those feelings ease into the scenes. The score is a solid effort even if there’s nothing remarkably original about or unique about it.