Album: The Cider House Rules: Music from the Motion Picture

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The Cider House Rules: Music from the Motion Picture

Artist: Rachel Portman
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Label: Sony

With its idyllic New England locales and multiple themes, director Lasse Hallstrom’s version of John Irving’s book presented composer Rachel Portman with some challenging, if deceptively simple, choices. Portman’s main theme (imagine a pastoral Copland waltz), stated by solo piano and then orchestra, sets us firmly in the tranquil Maine countryside, while permutations of it continually shade the film’s various dramatic intentions. It’s a simple, time-honored device, yet one that carries the implicit danger of Repetitive Schmaltz Syndrome. But Portman’s melodic…

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Amazon.com

With its idyllic New England locales and multiple themes, director Lasse Hallstrom’s version of John Irving’s book presented composer Rachel Portman with some challenging, if deceptively simple, choices. Portman’s main theme (imagine a pastoral Copland waltz), stated by solo piano and then orchestra, sets us firmly in the tranquil Maine countryside, while permutations of it continually shade the film’s various dramatic intentions. It’s a simple, time-honored device, yet one that carries the implicit danger of Repetitive Schmaltz Syndrome. But Portman’s melodic construction here is so strong, and her arranging skills so multihued, that she ultimately pulls off the tricky balancing act and delivers a rewarding listening experience. —Jerry McCulley

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The Cider House Rules

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In adapting his own novel The Cider House Rules for the screen, John Irving sacrificed at least some of the depth and detail that made his humanitarian themes resonate, while the film—directed with Scandinavian sobriety by Lasse Hallström—is often vague about the complex issues (abortion, incest, responsibility) that lie at its core. Allowing for this ambiguity (which is arguably intentional), the film retains much of what made Irving’s novel so admired, and like Hallström’s earlier feature What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, it’s blessed with a generous,…

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