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  • Jennifer Green

Review: "Música"

This vehicle for co-writer-director-star Mancuso is quirky, charming, and full of good vibes, despite a few directorial missteps. Mancuso pulls from his own experiences and life in Música, which grounds the story in a sense of realism. His sweet relationship with his overbearing mom (played by real-life mom Maria) and his vibrant, Jersey-based Brazilian community -- which hasn't been given the attention on screen that other immigrant communities have -- come to life naturally.


It's charming to see him and co-star Mendes bonding over aspects of their cultural heritage and peppering their speech with Portuguese phrases and expressions. The context is what makes the otherwise conventional romantic triangle and "failure to launch" storyline original, and the film drags the most in moments solely focused on these (for example, in an overly long restaurant scene where Mancuso encounters both girlfriends).


Woven into the story are elements of magic and fantasy to conjure Mancuso's synesthesia, a condition which -- in his case -- makes everyday sounds form into musical patterns in his brain. In his mind, people in diners, parks, and subway trains regularly break into rhythm and dance. The design and choreography of these musical numbers is delightful to experience as a viewer, and Mancuso shows originality in staging, composition, and editing as well (turning cameras sideways, moving characters between sets, and so on).


The synesthesia comes with challenges -- the film opens: "Based on a true story. Unfortunately." On the other hand, would Mancuso be where he is today, with such a broad following online and such a compelling story to bring to film, without this "gift," as Mendes' character calls it? Here's hoping he has more stories to tell.


 

Read the full review on CommonSenseMedia




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