The decidedly quirky drama-musical Music marks the directorial debut of Sia. She also co-wrote the screenplay (with Dallas Clayton), based on her own short story, and penned the songs that feature prominently.
Music (Maddie Ziegler) is on the autism spectrum and never parts from her headphones. She constantly listens to – you guessed it – music. She hardly speaks, but is much loved by her grandmother, Millie (Mary Kay Place). Music is used to a very specific routine and as long as that’s adhered to, she’s fine. Otherwise she’s prone to insecurity and tantrums. Millie has worded up friends and neighbours to ensure Music is watched closely when she goes on her daily walks. But one day, Millie’s house of cards comes tumbling down and grandma is no longer in the picture. Instead, Music’s newly sober half-sister, the free-spirited Zu (Kate Hudson) re-appears.
Zu is quite a piece of work and is totally out of her depth. Thankfully, a caring neighbour, Ebo (Leslie Odom Jr), has kept a close eye on Music and knows what to do. Zu’s life is a bit of a train wreck and she dreams of a piece of paradise abroad. She takes a shine to Ebo and he to her, although he’s also harbouring a few skeletons in his closet.
While Music is a story about the title character, Zu is as much the focus of attention. A series of peppy and often bizarre music videos punctuate the narrative arc. Colourful though they are, I’m not convinced they add much.
You have to suspend disbelief to get the most out of Music. You could easily pick holes in the script, which deals with finding your own voice.
The actors however are a delight and make the most of their respective roles. Kate Hudson and Maddie Ziegler (Sia’s friend and creative muse since 2014) light up the screen. Their smiles are infectious. Leslie Odom Jr brings a quiet dignity to the piece. Hector Elizondo displays deliberate restraint as the sympathetic landlord George.
My mind tended to drift every time another song came on and the storyline tends to jump about. But Music is well meaning, even if it is a film only for selective tastes.
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- Freaky – movie review
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- David Byrne’s American Utopia – movie review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.