Música REVIEW – A Musical Treat

A stylish, dynamic rom-com well worth a watch.


Rudy (Rudy Mancuso) has synesthesia, an ability to hear disparate sounds as music. He layers the sounds around him into musical pieces, and while this is magical and transportive, his girlfriend Haley (Francesca Reale) looks at his behaviour as distant. After a musically entertaining episode at a diner, Haley decides she’s had enough. Haley wants to make plans for the future – they’re both working towards their degrees – but Rudy has something different in mind. Currently, he performs musical puppet shows on the subway, and Rudy wants to develop this passion into something more.

Mancuso’s directorial debut Música is truly a breath of fresh air – he also co-wrote the script and created the music so integral to the film. The match-cuts are well done, and adds this dynamic, kinetic quality to the film. The scenes flow like music, and everything around Rudy feels so vibrant and alive. Music is everywhere in this film, there’s lyrics littered all over the subway wall as Rudy heads in to work, and even on the train all that surrounds him is rhythmic association.

He despairs of ever finding someone who could understand the way he experiences the world, until he meets Isabella (Camila Mendes) while getting slapped by a fish during a song and dance sequence at a fish market. While Haley’s always talked about leaving Newark, Isabella loves where she lives. She’s content, steady and unbothered with the uncertainties of life and the future. She loves working at the fish market and envisions owning a business of her own in the future, but is fairly unhurried about it. She’s happy to just enjoy life, a mindset that’s so refreshing to someone like Rudy, who’s been anxious about what the future entails. As she and Rudy get to know each other, Rudy thinks, “yes, this is what I’ve been missing my whole life”.

Mendes and Mancuso share tremendous chemistry together (which translated to real life romance), and it’s truly a joy to watch them together onscreen just having normal, everyday conversations at a nearby playground, or walking down the street on the way to the market. There’s a constant visual contrast in his relationships with Haley and Isabella. With Haley, the constant colour palette is a sterile white, a restrained world where Haley attempts to mold Rudy into the man she wants him to be, not the man that he is. Her parents can’t understand his Brazilian culture, nor do they attempt to, painting him with broad strokes as opposed to someone with layers and details. With Isabella, there’s colour, vibrancy, and she is the only one that attempts to understand his synesthesia. She looks at it as a gift, a special way of seeing the world, not something that will hold him back.

Mancuso’s real life mom Maria Mancuso plays herself in the film, just like he plays himself, which helps the film feel authentic and real. This is Mancuso’s own story, which allows it to have particular resonance, especially with those of us who keep putting our passions on the backburner for the pragmatic life Haley leans towards.

With Música, Mancuso’s proven himself to be quite the filmmaker, and I can’t wait to see what he does with his sophomore effort.

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Rudy Mancuso's directorial debut Música is quite the treat, and brings something new to the rom-com table.