La-La Land Records LLLCD1274
19 Tracks/Disc Time: 34:25
The film "Restless" was a bit of a pet project for actress Bryce Dallas Howard who championed the project for her former NYU classmate Jason Lew and brought the project the attention it needed to her father, Oscar Winning Director Ron Howard who at one point was attached to direct but handed off the reigns to another Oscar nominated Director in the person of Gus Van Sant who was the right choice for a film such as this after a successful career that includes the Oscar Winning "Good Will Hunting", "Drugstore Cowboy", "Finding Forrester", "To Die For" and most recently reteaming with "Good Will Hunting's" Matt Damon on his own project, "Promised Land". This film revolves around Annabel ("Alice In Wonderland's" Mia Wasikowska) who is a terminally ill cancer patient and is quietly awaiting her death spending her time studying nature. Enoch (Henry Hopper, son of the late great Actor/Director Dennis Hopper) who is struggling to recover from the death of his parents and spends his time attending funerals with his only friend - a ghost named Hiroshi who was a WWII Japanese kamikaze pilot. Just as Annabel's sister is trying to cope with Annabel's impending death, Annabel and Enoch fall in love and soon try to forge a relationship for as long as they are allowed the time to have one. The film was barely released and it's a mystery as to why it hasn't been so far to date.
When it comes to the film's musical score, it was a surprise (sort of!) that Oscar nominee Danny Elfman and Gus Van Sant's frequent collaborator was attached to this film since it was pretty much of a small intimate project which I would guess Elfman has been attracted to in the past. Elfman has pretty much found an intimate and melodic voice on project such as these and you can see the sheer joy he gets when he gets his hands musically speaking on them. The score for this film is minimal and simplistic as he focuses on acoustic guitar and solo instrumentation to give the film a more upbeat feel at times. It reminds me a little bit of his work on "Milk", his Oscar nominated work from a few years ago that used this same approach and ironically directed by Van Sant as well.
"Titles" introduces us to the main theme for the score featuring Elfman's deft charming and playful orchestrations for guitar while the rest of the track plays like a simple little lullaby of sorts evoking the spirit of life that sparks these two characters would eventually embrace. The score really does have a great quality to it that is very gentle and romantic in its own way showcased in tracks like "Battleship", "Reconciliation", "Waterbirds", "The Letter", "Morgue", "Morning Affair", and "On The Beach" which has Elfman's playful and joyous fun behind the material which his fans always enjoy. Elfman does also keep the serious tone of the story in tact musically with nice dramatic compositions in the tracks "Crime Scene", "Death Scene", "Sorry For Your Loss", "Happy Dead Girl", "Enoch's Goodbye" and "Weepy Donuts", Elfman's ultimate in joke that started with Van Sant's film "To Die For" and has been used in several other films of this type just for fun.
La-La Land's album is a short, nice affair that doesn't overstate its' welcome too much and there is very nice material here that is wroth of Elfman's wonderful filmography and pretty much fits the mold of scores like "Black Beauty", "Milk", "Good Will Hunting", "Anywhere But Here", Taking Woodstock" and "A Civil Action" that featured this type of sound. What will bug most fans of Elfman's is the fact that he's treaded this dramatic river once too many times and while the music is very good, it'll feel as if he's starting to repeat himself. Personally, I like Elfman in this mode especially if he's really on because while it's great to see him go full out with his big orchestrial scores, it's also great to see him pull out his best for small pictures like this one. A nice recommendation, thumbs up.