With Oscar-nominated A Beautiful Mind
immediately following Iris
(2002), James Horner has captured the tiny market in true-life stories of exceptionally talented individuals with mental health problems. As such, the two scores cannot help but be closely compared, with some of the lyrical English folk-flavoured melodic material from Iris
being reworked here. This is, though, a colder score, with recurring, pulsating phrases for the precise world of mathematics seemingly drawing inspiration from the minimalism of Philip Glass, combined with wordless voice paralleling John Williams' approach to A.I.
(2001). The voice is provided by soprano Charlotte Church, and her contributions to several cues have considerable beauty. She also performs the song "All Love Can Be" with real eloquence. Horner's songs have in the past blighted the end of films such as Titanic
(1997) but this is not only better music, but also far better performed. That said, certain passages, notably "Saying Goodbye to Those You Love" recycle material from Titanic
, including the ballad "My Heart Will Go On". The result is attractive and in places moving, though soundtrack collectors will certainly complain of a lack of originality and if choosing between Horner's two recent scores will be better served by Iris
, whatever the Academy may think.--Gary S Dalkin