December 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Runaway Jury  
Music composed by Christopher Young
  Available on Varèse Sarabande VSD 302 066 524 2
Running Time: 59.28
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runaway jury

Christopher Young is a fascinating individual. He has managed to very gradually rise to the top rank of film composers, moving from the humble beginnings of low budget horror to major A-list productions such as this current release, Runaway Jury. And what is particularly satisfying is that he deserves every bit of his success. From those early days of working on movies such as The Power (1980) and impressing by managing to create an orchestral, mature score despite budgetary restrictions, through to more mainstream genre fare such as A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 (1985), one could be forgiven for thinking that Young would always remain a skilled practitioner of either horror/fantasy or independent/minor productions. Not I should quickly add because he did not possess the required ability but because typecasting is so prevalent in the film industry. Even so, slowly but surely this composer has broken the mould and proven he is versatile enough to do it all.

With this score for an adaptation of John Grisham's best seller starring John Cusack, Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman, Young displays his consummate proficiency in dramatic atmosphere ('Not Lady Liberty'), romantic understatement ('Erase Her From My Heart'), full-blooded action/suspense ('Shark Tactics') and most significantly in this particular score, a kind of funky/jazz feel that pervades the numerous percussion led cues like 'The Devil's Not Such a Bad Guy After All' and the eight minute plus 'Fayeth in Fate No More'.

The use of a female voice with a bluesy edge ('Runaway Jury' etc.) gives the work a certain individuality and there are moments in stylistic terms that bring to mind the work of composers like Thomas Newman and even Jerry Goldsmith, but all the way through the one voice that really cries out is Christopher Young's own. His personal brand of dark-edged melodrama continues to serve the film community very well indeed, whatever the budget and status of the production. And long may he continue.

Mark Hockley

***(*) 31/2

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