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MÚSICA (2024)

Release Date: 04/04/24 [Prime Video]
Genre: Comedy. Romance.

Studio: Amazon Studios. 

"A coming-of-age love story that follows an aspiring creator with synesthesia, who must come to terms with an uncertain future, while navigating the pressures of love, family, and his Brazilian culture in Newark, New Jersey." 


A couple sits at a diner, discussing their future plans. The young woman has their whole life planned out already, and all she wants is for the young man to listen. But he’s checked out. Not because he wants to be, but because he just can’t focus. The more his girlfriend talks, the more her words become drowned out by the chaotic cacophony in the distance. And in a moment’s instance the entire scene transforms into a symphony before the young man’s eyes. It's a beautiful sight to behold, but it’s also sad because it can’t be controlled. It’s the opening sequence of social media star-turned-director Rudy Mancuso’s Música.

Before the film begins, we’re greeted with a title card that says everything we’re about to see is “unfortunately” based on a true story. And it is. Mancuso plays a semi-fictitious version of himself. The bout we see through his eyes at the diner is his attempt to capture his intense synesthesia. Where most people might hear a number and think of a color, Mancuso hears sounds and sees entire musical scenarios play out. This happens in transit, in school, and even in his dreams. While the film is partly about his struggle to push through it in his life, it’s also about how it ultimately helped him become the person that he is today.

After the episode in the diner, Rudy’s girlfriend Haley (played by Francesca Reale) breaks up with him. This puts him at odds with another woman in his life, his mother (played by his real life mom). All she truly wants is for Rudy to find a nice Brazilian girl, or at least someone who can speak the language. Even after she comically tries to set him up with the daughter of one of her friends, Rudy decides that he wants to take a break from romance. He partially realizes that he actually doesn’t know what he wants after all. Then, he gets distracted. Except this time it’s not by a make-believe musical scenario. It’s by another young woman named Isabella (played by Camilla Mendes). 

The vast majority of this movie follows Rudy as he bounces back and forth trying to please all three women. After getting to know Isabella a bit, Haley pops back in the picture. Unsure of how to tell her that he’s met someone else, he lets her get close again until they are pretty much back together. He does this all while still trying to make his mom happy by finishing school. 

If it sounds like a lot to juggle, it is. But that’s still barely scratching the surface. On top of the constant musical crescendos and the love triangle, there’s also Rudy’s love of puppets - and the fact that his favorite puppet (voiced by him) occasionally comes to life to try and act as his conscience. There’s also the occasional check-ins with a local food truck owner and confidant, Anwar, played by the always hilarious JB Smoove. 

Mancuso manages to fit so much into this film that you can’t help but admire his ambition. Still, at some point it becomes messy. There’s so much thrown your way that you start to really imagine how distracted he might feel from time to time. Perhaps that’s the secret brilliance of it all. Perhaps that’s just him trying to cling on to our shorter attention spans.

While the story doesn’t always work, technically the film shines throughout. There’s this one unforgettable sequence where we follow Mancuso in a montage over the course of a few months. Where most films would traditionally cut to different scenes in time, we see Mancuso wake, enter different rooms, date both love interests and plenty more in a single take! That’s not to say that the synchronicity of each of the film’s musical sequences isn’t impressive either. All of Mancuso’s years painstakingly editing second-long loops and catchy music skits really does pay off here. But the fact that it’s easier to understand him more through how this story is told than the actual story itself is the film’s most unfortunate flaw.

Música is told in several parts named after actual elements in music: rhythm, melody, dynamics, etc. While some parts are better than the whole, like some of the greatest songs ever made, that doesn’t detract from what the artist has achieved. Even if the film is overstuffed and distracted at times, Mancuso has proven that he should not be defined by his short-form past. And that beating to his own drum, despite what others want or think, is really the only way to finally find your voice.

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