James Vanderbilt is mostly famous for writing a script for David Fincher’s superb Zodiac... and somewhat less successful Spider-Man reboots from 2012 and 2014. Now, it is time for him to make his directing debut with a political docudrama titled Truth. The film is based on Mary Mapes memoirs and chronicles the infamous Killian document controversy regarding George W. Bush service at the Air National Guard. Critics praise strong performances from ever-reliable Cate Blanchett but Robert Redford… and very little else.
Brian Tyler has becomes such a synonym of both Fast and Furious and Marvel franchises that it’s almost impossible to imagine him tackling smaller projects. So him being attached to a film like Truth comes as a significant surprise. It’s largely far removed from his blockbuster sound, even if he manages to sneak in some cleverly done references to that masculine side of his writing style. Tyler finds ways to indulge his love of declamatory themes and make fun of them, to an extent. ‘Truth Main Title’ seems to serve both as main thematic idea of the film as well as the news programme intro. And one has to admit, it feels really alarmingly accurate in depicting the busy environment of television journalism. It’s a noble melody for brass and punctuated by all-American snare drums.
What distinguishes Truth among Tyler’s usual fare is clarity of writing. For once, his arrangements are not excsessively excited and overcooked. You can hear each section clearly and there is a great tenderness and feeling to his compositions that is normally absent from bigger scores (‘Asking Questions’, ‘Documents’). Piano and harp ostinatos are meant to mimic the sound of typing, according to the composer himself (‘Pursuing the Truth’), while occasional brass statements bringing a sense of noble Americana.
‘Three Hours’ expresses the excitement and tense nature of journalism. The gently mixed guitar effects add some nicely tense texture to ‘Culmination’ and ‘Transcendence’. The latter also features a solo voice of Tori Letzler. It might sound a bit on the nose and overused, but Tyler still makes it work. ‘60 Minutes’ seems to recall the Ultron creation montages of the last Avengers film. Both cues share the same sense of anticipation and possible discovery.
Some of the material in the middle of soundtrack album presentation feels more somber (‘Humble Beginnings’, ‘Mistakes And Misunderstanding’), as is the entire final part of the 55-minute soundtrack album (‘I Am What I Am’ and ‘Public Apology’). Those sections are not among Truth's finest moments and bog the listening experience down slightly. ‘End of An Era’ brings back the more proud material from the beginning , although it is only a shadow of its former self at that point.
As the extended albums of his blockbuster music are slowly becoming interchangeable, it’s nice to be reminded that Brian Tyler indeed has enough sensitivity and dramatic skill to bring something else to the table. Truth soundtrack album still feels slightly overlong, given the repetitive nature of the score, but it’s an interesting deviation for the composer. He’s way more diverse and dramatically apt than many of those noise action scores would lead you to believe.
Truth is now out from Varese Sarabande