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Prime Video Review: ‘Música’ is a Joyful Celebration of the Rhythm of Life

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It’s hard to know how people move through the world, and you can never really get inside someone’s head. However, for someone aware that things hit them differently, making a movie about their experiences is the best way to try. In a stunning feature directorial debut, writer and star Rudy Mancuso conveys living with synesthesia, a phenomenon where he hears sound as rhythm, in an accessible, wondrous, and entertaining way in Música.

It’s fair to say that the fictionalized version of Rudy (Mancuso) is having a tough time concentrating. Haley (Francesca Reale), his girlfriend of four years, wants him to get serious and move from Newark to New York City with her once they both get marketing jobs. Rudy is much more interested in his puppet music show, and he can barely even get through a conversation with Haley at a diner because he’s always hearing musical performances while she’s talking. When he meets Isabella (Camila Mendes), something changes, and he realizes that, though she can’t hear what he hears, she may understand him better than anyone else.

While this is in many ways a romantic comedy about Rudy’s relationships with two women he finds attractive and might or might not be right for him, one woman takes precedence over both of them. That’s his mother, Maria, played by Mancuso’s real-life mother, who tells him how much she wants him to date and marry a Brazilian girl and is pretty much all up in his business. Mancuso cleverly conveys the lack of any boundaries by featuring shots of her leaning up against the outside of his bedroom door while he wonders how he can hear her breathing from inside his room, rotating the screen so that subtitles for her Portuguese dialogue serve to bisect the room from the hallway.

This is a masterful instance of delightful experimentation, all of which works. There isn’t a particular consistency to the musical interludes, but that’s in keeping with how Rudy describes his condition. Its unpredictable nature makes it difficult to plan and to be fully present. It also makes it sweet as Isabella can see Rudy go somewhere else and ask him questions about what he’s just experienced. Though Haley doesn’t know about it and wouldn’t get it even if she did, that doesn’t mean Reale is exempt from those song and dance numbers, sitting stoically as Haley has no idea what Rudy is seeing going on around her.

Mancuso has a natural charm and great star quality that completely justifies casting himself in this film. His mother is just as talented, handling dialogue well and delivering many of the film’s funniest lines. Mendes plays her part just right, impossibly alluring to Rudy but containing a great deal of substance as well, not content just to ignore things about him that don’t sit right with her and ready to interrogate him about what he’s going through in a given moment. Reale also makes Haley likable enough, deserving at least more consideration than Rudy gives her, even if she’s never truly asked Rudy what he wants.

The one downside of this film’s April release on Prime Video is that it’s brimming with joy and fun and might best be experienced with a crowd on a big screen. But it’s also something that should play well at home and work if watched without anyone else there since it’s about a person’s solitary journey that he only slowly begins to tell other people about as he finds it hindering his life and happiness. Ultimately, it’s all about finding yourself and your rhythm, and this film excels at bringing Rudy’s rhythm to life. 

Movie Rating: 8/10

Awards Buzz: This film could be the perfect contender for a Golden Globe pairing of Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical and Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical. But its post-festival streaming debut will likelier send it to the Emmys, where it should stand a decent chance of cracking the Outstanding Television Movie race.

Author

  • Abe Friedtanzer

    Abe Friedtanzer is a film and TV enthusiast who spent most of the past fifteen years in New York City. He has been the editor of MoviesWithAbe.com and TVwithAbe.com since 2007, and has been predicting the Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, and SAG Awards since he was allowed to stay up late enough to watch them.

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