Confused, uplifting, surreal - just like the film then!

Review by Jack Foley

IT'S saying something for a film's musical score when one of its tracks boasts a remix by Fatboy Slim. But then, just as Adaptation is a movie which thrives on the unexpected, then so is the soundtrack - a diverse collection of mood pieces which are as beguiling as they are profound.

Carter Burwell's score manages to tap into the surreal nature of the film from the start, kicking off with that Fatboy Slim remix of the title track, which lends it a far hipper edge than listeners may expect. It is a gutsy start, which poses the question, can the rest follow up to it?

There are three central themes running through the soundtrack, all related to the movie's protagonists. Hence, those which accompany Nicolas Cage's frustrated screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman, are the most difficult to listen to - complex, intense, and a little wayward as if to echo the actor's confused emotional state throughout.

The name's of the songs tell the story of what to expect, beginning with The Evolution of the Screenwriter and going through The Writer and the Crazy White Man, The Screenwriter's Nightmare and Effects of Sibling Pressure.

Yet where Burwell's score really comes into its own is during the quieter moments, usually associated with Meryl Streep's smitten reporter, as she follows Chris Cooper's orchid hunter into a world she never knew existed (Cooper, too, gets his own theme).

Tracks such as An Unashamed Passion possess an almost classical feel and contain some beautiful horns and strings, that it is hard not to fall in love with them. There is almost a sadness in them, yet they remain upbeat and enchanting throughout, a nice interlude before the manic, nervy score which accompanies Cage's hero.

Undoubtedly, the score will be an acquired taste (just like the film itself) and there are plenty of moments when it drifts into headache-inducing territory, but there are enough moments to justify a recommended rating, as in Whittle The World Down, Shinier Than Any Ant and the beautifully-realised Adaptation Versus Immutability (which fuses the central theme with that of Streep's).

And while the Zeno remix of The Screenwriter's Nightmare pretty much sums up all that is bad about the album, things are redeemed by a cheery rendition of Happy Together, by The Turtles, to finish things off.

Not great then, but by no means bad either, this is well worth a listen; particularly if, like us, you loved the film.

Track listings:

1. Adaptation (Fatboy Slim Remix)
2. The Evolution Of The Screenwriter
3. The Writer And The Crazy White Man
4. An Unashamed Passion
5. The Evolution of Evolution
6. On Judgement, Human and Otherwise
7. Whittle The World Down
8. On the Similarity of Human and Orchid Forms
9. The Screenwriter’s Nightmare
10. Approaching the Object of Desire
11. Shinier Than Any Ant
12. The Slough Pit of Creation
13. Adaptation Versus Immutability
14. Effects of Sibling Pressure
15. Evasion and Escape
16. The Unexpressed Expressed
17. The Screenwriter’s Nightmare (Zeno Remix)
18. Happy Together – The Turtles