Atom Egoyan is a director who has made many apparently fine films, none of which I could ever lay claim to having seen. Unfortunately, his latest, Where the Truth Lies, has been hailed as something of a misfire and probably not a good place to start. The film is ostensibly a thriller/whodunnit, seemingly in the same kind of ballpark as LA Confidential and Mychael Danna's haunting, occasionally sleezy score, certainly fits the mood. Danna has scored most of Egoyan's films and The Sweet Hereafter is commonly cited as one of Danna's finest (although I'm not sure I agree), but Where the Truth Lies is a fine enough effort.
Where his earlier scores relied on smaller ensembles of unusual instruments, Danna has slowly progressed upwards in terms of films and budgets, so Where the Truth Lies is a brooding orchestral work, mixing up the sordid and the mysterious. The LA Confidential comparison feels apt; there is none of the brutality of Goldsmith's score, but plenty of the mood, with slippery strings, lonely trumpet solos and a little Basic Instinct style woodwind writing. Some modernist devices creep in from time to time, notably the edgy sounding Small Scratches and Only to Destroy, which use an electric guitar motif similar to that employed by Stephen Warbeck on Proof. Midway through, Danna introduces a piano motif that is (roughly) an inversion of Herrmann's Vertigo main theme, but it's such an effective device, one can hardly blame Danna for leaning on it.
The final tracks ratchet up the intensity somewhat, notably the lengthy The Tape which further emphasizes elements of the Herrmannesque mood. A brief reprise of the electric guitar based material in Forgive Me concludes the album. A couple of random interjections break up the mood; There'll be no Next Time is a brief, but fun song performed by the film's leads while Palace del Sol is an equally short, but lively, jazzy instrumental. Other reviewers have been curiously unimpressed with this effort, but I wonder if that's because Danna's doesn't delve into low budget Thomas Newman-lite style that made his name. For my money, although his style maybe less quirky and individual than it was, Danna's orchestral writing is very assured and Where the Truth Lies is another effective and engaging example.