director: sia (debut)
starring: Maddie Ziegler, kate hudson, leslie odom jr. and Hector Elizondo
REVIEWER: lyall carter
Zu is newly sober when she receives news that she is to become the sole guardian of her half-sister named Music, a young girl on the autism spectrum.
Reviewing films I’ve pretty much seen it all. But when I heard that Sia was directing a film my attention was truly caught. Even though Music is highly innovative and artful, these elements can sometimes distract from a timely exploration of the burden of one's past and striving towards a hope filled future.
Zu (Kate Hudson) is a free spirit estranged from her family who suddenly finds herself the sole guardian of her half-sister, Music (Maddie Ziegler), a teenager on the autism spectrum whose whole world order has been beautifully crafted by her late grandmother. With a history of addiction issues that have challenged her self-worth and reliability, Zu can barely take care of herself and she struggles with the new responsibilities her sister brings. But Music has the watchful loving eye of her local community, and Zu soon learns that life’s obstacles can be made easier with a little help from their neighbour Ebo (Leslie Odom Jr.).
The narrative of Music is punctuated by highly artful (think a Sia music video and you’ve got the picture) expressions of Music’s imagination. At the same time you have a somewhat gritty drama playing between these musical numbers.
Tonally the film can’t quite decide what it wants to be. The artful musical set pieces are lush pieces of musical art with incredible choreography and the drama, at times, plumbs the depths. But it feels like one interrupts the other. When the emotion of the drama is strung high it's suddenly stopped by a musical number. Music doesn’t quite pull it all together.
Kate Hudson is almost unrecognisable with her crew cut haircut and messed up way of life and gives a stirring performance. Odom Jr. takes his Hamilton musical skills and combines them with the acting prowess of One Night in Miami to bring an inspired performance.
Even though Music is highly innovative and artful, these elements can sometimes distract from a timely exploration of the burden of one's past and striving towards a hope filled future.