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The Book Of Henry by Michael Giacchino (Review)

posted Jun 19, 2017, 8:17 PM by Koray Savas

The Book Of Henry is Colin Trevorrow's small budget family drama squeezed between 2015's Jurassic World and the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX. The film tackles some heavy themes and conflicts, but sends mixed messages through inappropriate tonal shifts and quirky moods. Trevorrow returns to composer Michael Giacchino after their collaboration on Jurassic World, who delivers an equally mismatched score to this awkward misstep.

Let it be clear that this film is about an eccentric family with an ingenious son that discovers that their next door neighbor is abusing his stepdaughter. Now factor in warm autumnal color palettes, a Drew Struzan throwback poster, and some comic relief. Doesn't feel right, does it? The aesthetic qualities of the film and score all point to a different style and tone, while the core of the narrative shifts in a completely different direction. This leaves the music ungrounded and baseless. Giacchino is able to paint a generally beautiful and intricate soundscape for the film, but it lacks a strong narrative arc that gives it greater substance as a listening experience. There are some really nice ideas developed throughout that fit the unique characterization of Henry, primarily in the percussion and rhythmic writing, but the depth ends there. What the listener is left with is a middling effort that fails to leave a lasting impact. With that being said, there is still some wonderful writing for piano and strings that truly captures the abstract tone of the film. Cues such as "Overture," "Treehouse Inventions," and "Book Discovery: System Of Abuse" are the highlights of the score, with the latter echoing Giacchino's Earth Days.

The Book Of Henry does well in terms of its conceptualization and musical execution, but the film's failure to establish a story to match it leaves the entire experience a bit muddled. Giacchino injects a good sense of heart and character into the score, utilizing sparser instrumentation than expected, ultimately providing bits and pieces worth revisiting down the line.