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Música Prime Film Review: Mesmerizing Musical

Camila Mendes sits by a table in the garden while another character of the Prime Video film Música leans on her shoulder pointing at something in front of them

Rudy Mancuso’s debut feature film, Música, is a magnetic, coming-of-age musical unlike anything you’ve ever encountered before. 

Youtuber turned filmmaker Rudy Mancuso’s debut feature film, Música, is a unique, refreshing coming-of-age musical comedy with a distinctive attribute. The movie, which premiered earlier this month at the SXSW Film Festival, is based on Mancuso’s real-life experience with synesthesia — a neurological condition that causes the stimulation of one sensory pathway to involuntarily trigger another — and his upbringing as a Brazilian American in New Jersey. Equipped with an inventive narrative that intertwines visually striking instrumental numbers with themes of family, culture, and love, the film is an interactive cinematic journey that entices you from the moment the opening credits are displayed on screen.  

Música follows Rudy (Rudy Mancuso), who is uncertain about his future life path. Though he attends college and works towards his degree, he only goes to school to appease his mother, showing little interest in the course that he’s enrolled in. What brings him happiness is the puppet show he’s created, which he performs to passers-by on the subway platform after school hours. Rudy’s mother wants him to settle down with a Brazilian girl and isn’t too keen on his girlfriend, Haley (Francesca Reale), whom she calls the gringa.  

Haley has plans to move to the city with Rudy after they graduate college, though she doubts his puppet show will provide a sufficient income to support the pair. To make matters worse, she is dismissive of his synesthesia, which, through no fault of his own, distracts him from their day-to-day conversations. After Haley and Rudy break up, he meets a girl named Isabella (Camila Mendes), who is supportive of his condition and the polar opposite of Haley. However, Rudy finds himself in a problematic situation when Haley wants him back, resulting in him dating both women simultaneously.

Describing a medical disorder to someone who doesn’t possess it is a complex task. Still, through Música’s absorbing narrative full of creativity, Mancuso (who has synesthesia in real life) depicts the condition through the eyes of a person living with it.

Due to sensory overload, Rudy unintentionally creates music from noises he hears in his environment, and Mancuso showcases the effects of the condition seamlessly. It’s hard to imagine that the sound of a sweeping broom or spoons banging against pots and pans could create masterful compositions. Yet, Mancuso uses what could be considered jarring noises to produce some of the most catchy, innovative musical pieces.

two characters of the Prime Video film Música sit at the dinner table next to each other with seafood pasta in front of them
Música (Prime Video, © Amazon Content Services LLC)

Though Música incorporates various themes into the storyline throughout its runtime, each is adequately woven into the narrative. The film highlights the challenges individuals experience when their parents pressure them to make life decisions that do not align with their wants and needs. Rudy’s mom, played by Mancuso’s real-life mother, wants him to settle down with a Brazilian girl, embrace his culture, and live locally in the community he was raised in. On the contrary, Rudy wishes to move far away from the small town he grew up in and branch out to the big city. Música stresses the importance of embracing what brings us happiness and fulfillment in life and believing in ourselves and the passions we wish to pursue. It also demonstrates the importance of culture, community, and staying true to our roots.

Música’s biggest drawback is the love triangle trope, which exists between Rudy, Haley, and Isabella. It’s unoriginal and something we have seen a million times before. However, due to Mendes and Mancuso’s electrifying chemistry, Rudy and Isabella’s relationship brims with charisma and appeal, and they are bound to win you over. Moments spent with the pair are credible, unlike the overused clichés accompanying most rom-com relationships that result in phony, predictable narratives. As an earnest romance between the two develops, you look forward to their scenes together as they complement and uplift one another while proving that opposites attract. 

Seeing more of Isabella’s life outside of her relationship with Rudy would have been enjoyable, as she is the most appealing and exciting secondary character in the feature. That said, Isabella still has enough depth to be intriguing. She is a grounded presence who accepts Rudy for who he is, regardless of his challenges with synesthesia, and finds Rudy’s explanation of his condition fascinating. Similarly, she supports the unique career path he longs for and never judges his decisions or life outlook, which differ greatly from her own. Isabella adores the town the two grew up in and never wishes to leave. Though her feelings about the community vary significantly from Rudy’s, they share a deep appreciation for one another’s perspectives, and the essence of Música lies within their romance.

By the end of Música, you will walk away from the viewing experience not only blown away by the film’s visuals but deeply impressed by Mancuso’s talent as an artist. He effortlessly builds an immersive world that allows you to experience synesthesia from Rudy’s viewpoint. Though Mancuso may have set the bar high for future features, his inventiveness can only improve from here, and I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s in store for him next.

Música will be available to stream globally on Prime Video from April 4, 2024.

Música: Trailer (Prime Video)
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