When Danna's score began, his easygoing, seemingly effortless musical approach
took me immediately; considering "Girl, Interrupted" comes from a composer
specialized in using music to the determent of pop culture, it is atypically
accessible. True, some may view this soundtrack as though the composer lowered
his standards, and to a degree I suppose that could very well be, but in
an uncanny way he again bridges the creation gap between high art and populist
entertainment found in much of his work.
Despite the increased informality of the score, Mychael Danna retains his
position as one of the most original film composers working today. The sleeve
notes by director James Mangold (whose comments are fleeting, amusing, and
revealing) explain the so-called Glass Orchestra, a notable ingredient that
utilizes "shards of glass, crystal goblets, glass flutes and harmonicas."
Several of these effects appeared in Thomas Newman's underrated "Oscar and
Lucinda" from 1997, and hints of them stretch back to previous works by Danna
and into centuries before; nevertheless, they remain fascinating. He incorporates
them masterfully into the better acknowledged sounds of acoustic guitar,
piano, drum, and chamber orchestra, and in the 34 minutes of underscore featured
on the album he offers them with soft dirges, surreal marches, and the sweet
Americana of the main theme. Unfortunately, none of these venture far to
express creative emotion.
The listener should feel that what he hears is precisely what was needed.
From what I gather, the impetus for the offbeat material is the film's precarious
psychological constituents. The picture is a retelling of author Susanna
Kaysen's institutionalization in both a psychiatric hospital and the psychiatric
treadmill of her conflicted mind. The album production probably isn't very
helpful on that last front.
The cue names troublesomely appear only in the album's booklet, and there
are no timings for the release's 29 tracks. Not quite as annoying, but
considerably less consequential, on the first half of the disc are ten popular
songs performed by Wilco, Them featuring Van Morrison, The Band, The Mamas
& the Papas, The Chambers Brothers, Jefferson Airplane, Merrilee Rush
& The Turnabouts, Aretha Franklin, Skeeter Davis, and Petula Clark.