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Section Header
The Vow
Co-Composed and Co-Orchestrated by:
Rachel Portman

Co-Composed by:
Michael Brook

Conducted by:
David Snell

Co-Orchestrated by:
Jeff Atmajian

Produced by:
Craig Conard

Madison Gate Records

Release Date:
February 2nd, 2012

Also See:
Never Let Me Go
The Lake House

Audio Clips:
1. A Moment of Impact (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

2. Come Home With Me (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

10. Packing It Up (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

16. Wedding Vows (Bonus Track) (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release, primarily distributed via download but also availabile through's "CDr on demand" service.


The Vow

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Our Price: $9.99

Sales Rank: 42729

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Buy it... if you have infinite patience for Rachel Portman's pretty and understated techniques for innocuously romantic situations, this entry punctuated by the nice touch of guitar contributions written by Michael Brook.

Avoid it... if only a couple of minutes of genuinely warm, orchestral depth in an otherwise minimally contemporary score cannot justify a very short and rather bland, score-only album release.

The Vow: (Rachel Portman/Michael Brook) Hollywood has a knack for "religiously sanitizing" existing concepts in the process of adapting a true story into a silver screen event, usually as an effort to seek the widest audiences possible for their products. There have been exceptions in the years prior to 2012's The Vow, most notably The Blind Side and Soul Surfer, but studios tend to avoid Christian-based messaging in movies in most circumstances. This removal of faith was the source of some discontent with The Vow, which is based upon the true story of a newly married New Mexico couple who suffered an automobile accident that left one of them without any memory of the other. They had originally met via long distance correspondence and had married due in part to their equal commitment to Jesus Christ, and their faith guided them in the process of rediscovering each other after the accident. In The Vow, however, the leads played by Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum respond to the same adversity simply because of a secular Hollywood formula and nothing relating to religion, a choice by the studio that safely yielded immense fiscal returns that made the film, for a few weeks, the highest domestic grossing movie of the year to that point. Unless you are a young man in desperate need of getting laid, there is really no reason for your demographic to witness the kind of pointless spectacle that unfolds predictably in The Vow. Set in Chicago, the movie only uses stock footage of that city as a stand-in for filming in Toronto, and equally wasted in the picture are Sam Neill and Jessica Lange in woeful supporting roles. Director Michael Sucsy tackled The Vow as his first major feature film, his only previous endeavor the popular HBO movie Grey Gardens of 2009. Reuniting with Sucsy from that project is composer Rachel Portman, long a veteran of writing innocuous music for romantic dramas. Early in the process, the director and composer agreed that Portman's history of writing broad orchestral material would not suit the personality of The Vow, and the two of them opted instead for an intimate, smaller scale presence to anchor the film in the place of an extensive song-related soundtrack. The result is still not particularly abnormal for Portman, but her method of achieving that end did take an unexpected turn in this assignment.

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In the process of diminishing the depth of volume in the score for The Vow, Portman made the determination that the sound she was developing for the lead female character needed a stylistic counterbalance to represent the male lead. She thus struck up a collaboration with Canadian composer Michael Brook to supply a guitar-led personality for the second half of the score. Brook is not a major name in the film music community, though he did contribute to some Hans Zimmer scores of the early 2000's and has written a few solo works since (most notably for Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth). His expertise with guitars of all varieties is utilized well opposite Portman's standard piano and orchestra-based sound for The Vow, producing a contemporary blend that plays much as one would expect for a Portman effort that has been spruced up for an urban romance setting with electric and acoustic guitar. It's somewhat odd that Portman sought the assistance in this particular case, because she has proven herself more than capable in the past at handling guitars of all natures. Nevertheless, she and Brook collaborated extensively on most cues for The Vow, each writing thematic material and Brook sometimes adding his own layer to Portman's base material. Ultimately, the execution of the score sounds like an 80% Portman emphasis, her melodic and instrumental sensibilities still dominating the soundscape. The guitar work really does mesh well with her traditional sound, however, almost approaching similarly conceived Danny Elfman territory. There are two recurring themes in the score, logically, the grittier, guitar-led identity in "Come Home With Me" and "First Base," an affable, slightly Country-Western idea. On the other hand, you have Portman's piano-defined waltz in "An Outsider" that swells into the full ensemble highlight in "Packing It Up," by which point it starts to exude the composer's deep melodramatic touch. Interestingly, the two themes never swap instrumentation, a somewhat disappointing conclusion to the album with the cues "Remember" and "Wedding Vows" simply repeating the two themes in their respective base instrumentation. When the instrumentation mingles well, the themes are typically absent, an unfortunate aspect of "A Few Questions" and "Hard For Me Too." Overall, The Vow is a score that achieves everything it sets out to achieve, and with the exception of the grim "A Moment of Impact" that opens the album, there is never a challenging moment. But there's practically no unique substance on the 27-minute score-only product, the collaboration so fluid that it becomes mundane fast. ** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Rachel Portman reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.26 (in 28 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.21 (in 25,681 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.58 Stars
Smart Average: 2.69 Stars*
***** 14 
**** 18 
*** 32 
** 34 
* 33 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   I love Rachel Portman's music, but...
  Michelle -- 9/15/12 (10:31 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 26:42

• 1. A Moment of Impact (1:24)
• 2. Come Home With Me (2:37)
• 3. When We Met (2:20)
• 4. First Base (1:21)
• 5. Tomorrow Will Be Better (0:45)
• 6. An Outsider (1:14)
• 7. An Awkward Hug (1:46)
• 8. Did I Keep a Journal? (0:22)
• 9. I Could Never Get You Out of Here (1:19)
• 10. Packing It Up (2:51)
• 11. A Good Life Again (2:56)
• 12. A Few Questions (1:06)
• 13. Hard for Me Too (0:40)
• 14. Calling It a Day (1:29)
• 15. Remember (2:30)
• 16. Wedding Vows (Bonus Track) (2:02)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a note from the director about the collaboration between the two composers. As in many of's "CDr on demand" products, the packaging smells incredibly foul when new.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Vow are Copyright © 2012, Madison Gate Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 2/25/12 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2012-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.