Soundtrack Review: THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU
The world of THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU is one of looking at the universe we all know, but through slightly skewed eyes. Thomas Newman’s (WALL-E, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD) score plays on the classical elements familiar to film score, but does so with a slant of off-elements and a percussion section that drives the tension and the action as David (Matt Damon) and Elise (Emily Blunt) attempt to out run their fates.
At times, the film almost feels like an intricate dance with multiple performers all moving around each other, never quite colliding, eventually coming together in the climatic scene. This feeling was a natural infusion as Elise is a dancer and Newman’s score succeeds in intertwining our characters in more of a dance rather than purposeful movement around and towards one another. Newman rides that fine line between romance and action with a discerning bent to ensure the agitation would dissolve into sounds devoid of tension.
The very first track, “Fate,” sets the tone for the film as the song’s pretty melody is encroached upon by vibrating, but not quite sinister, sounds. One of the themes of the film is this idea that we hold fate to this unshakable and admired value, but then are given the question of what it means to find that fate is not as impenetrable as we have all been led to think. Followed immediately by “Inflection Points,” the twinkling that is sprinkled in each track is combined with beats and tones that keep one guessing and never feeling completely comfortable.
When it comes to David and Elise’s relationship, the music is hopeful, but never quite fulfilled. “Elise” is a beautiful track, much like the woman it’s title is accredited to, but the piece is also slightly ominous, helping to suggest that although David views Elise as something good, there may be other factors he does not see also attached to her. The pieces relating to David and Elise, such as “The Girl on the Bus” and “None of Them Are You,” contain an alluring guitar and piano melody, but the refrains always seem slightly open ended, not yet complete.
Not made up of only score, the soundtrack also features two tracks from The Verve’s former lead singer Richard Ashcroft (“Future’s Bright” and “Are You Ready”) which work to add some levity and more “standard” rock to the otherwise score heavy collection. The sound and title of these tracks help give us a window into the hope beyond the adjustments and control – a future that is bright, but also unknown. Ashcroft’s voice has that wonderful, slightly weathered tone that helps it play against the pop music surrounding it, fitting right in with Newman’s score to keep things a bit off kilter.
The other non-scored track comes from renowned jazz singer Sarah Vaughan’s “Fever” which is remixed by English DJ Adam Freeland to give this classic song about desire a modern back beat and help continue the feeling of constant movement. For a soundtrack that is mainly orchestral, with a few rock moments thrown in, this sudden turn towards full electronic helps to keep things fresh and interesting. The attraction and draw between David and Elise is palpable, but it is also chaotic and surrounded by a causes which force them to run towards their fever for one another rather than getting to just bask in it.
This feeling of chance moments surrounded by struggle runs through both the film and the soundtrack as the score keeps the pensive overtone, but also reminds the audience of what we are running towards. THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU is not your average love story and in turn, Newman’s score and song choices are not quite average either. The score plays slightly better within the film than listened to outside of it, but the intricate and thoughtful selection of the various instruments used in each track comes through in both formats. In a landscape leaning more towards electronic scores to drive action, Newman still achieves this feeling by using different influences that sets his score apart while still keeping that modern edge.
This soundtrack is available through Relativity Music Group.
1. "Fate" - Thomas Newman
2. "Inflection Points" - Thomas Newman
3. "Elise" - Thomas Newman
4. "Four Elections" - Thomas Newman
5. "Future's Bright" - Richard Ashcroft
6. "The Girl on the Bus" - Thomas Newman
7. "Square-One Reset" - Thomas Newman
8. "Richardson" - Thomas Newman
9. "None of Them Are You" - Thomas Newman
10. "New Leaf" - Thomas Newman
11. "Pier 17" - Thomas Newman
12. "Recalibration" - Thomas Newman
13. "The Substrate" - Thomas Newman
14. "Real Kiss" - Thomas Newman
15. "Fever (Adam Freeland Extended Remix)" - Sarah Vaughan
16. "The Illusions of Free Will" - Thomas Newman
17. "Escher Loop" - Thomas Newman
18. "The Ripples Must Be Endless (End Title)" - Thomas Newman
19. "Are You Ready" - Richard Ashcroft