Film: Music (12A)
- Credit: Signature Entertainment
Sia's musical drama about autism and recovering from addiction is bold, daring and foolhardy. But if you're going to crash a car why gently deposit it into a country verge when there is a perfectly good wall to aim for?
Recovering addict Zu (Hudson) suddenly finds herself becoming the sole guardian of her autistic half-sister Music (Ziegler.) The “realistic” narrative charting her attempts to deal with this new responsibility are broken up by various musical sequences with the cast performing musical numbers on bright stylised sets, in bright stylized costumes. The film's main problem is that these are its most credible sequences. They are much more nuanced and truthful than the dramatic sections where the characterisations are simplistic and the narrative almost incoherent.
All I know of Sia is that she's the Chandelier-here singer who wears funny wigs. I've got nothing riding on the success or failure of this enterprise, but I wanted to like it. It's trying to do something new with narrative cinema and it's daring in the way that it wants to portray a world where people are fundamentally nice.
Sia's had her own battles with addiction and is an advocate of the 12 steps programme. Her film is co-written with children's author Dallas Clayton and maybe if you've been through the darkness but have been helped back into the light through the kindness of others you see the world with the childlike gratitude this film exudes.
That's a perfectly legitimate world view that is well worth sharing, but making Zu a courier for a nice drug dealer who supplies helpful drugs to the third world or having lyrics like “We're all insecure/ humans we're so insecure/ but we are so pure/ humans we're so insecure/ I think love is the cure,” really hobbles the message.
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Another problem is that Kate Hudson is quite annoying. I don't know how much is the character or her performance, but whenever she tries to make a connection with the audience it doesn't take. Her singing's top-notch though, and whenever the film is music and dancing it is vibrant and imaginative enough to overlook its flaws. But not when it isn't.
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Starring Kate Hudson, Maddie Ziegler, Leslie Odom Jr, Hector Elizondo, Ben Schwartz and Mary Kay Place. Running time: 107 mins.
http://www.halfmanhalfcritic.com/ for a review of the Criterion Collection release of Charade with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.