A Refreshing Brazilian-American Romantic Comedy

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Summary

  • Música brings a refreshing take on romantic comedies, anchored in Brazilian American culture and synesthesia.
  • The film defies expectations with a creative portrayal of synesthesia, great chemistry, and cultural authenticity.
  • Despite rushed pacing in the third act, Música is a classic rom-com with heart, soul, and unique representation.



Romantic comedies might be an iconic part of the 1990s and early 2000s, with many thinking back to the golden years of rom-coms, especially as they have recently fallen out of favor with moviegoers. Some movies in 2024 and late 2023 are looking to change that. Amazon Studio’s Música is one of them. Anchored in the Brazilian American culture of New Jersey, where the film is set, and a rich visual experience reflecting what it’s like to live with synesthesia, this is a refreshing take on the age-old classic world of romantic comedies.

The director, writer, and creator of Música is Rudy Mancuso, who first found fame through platforms like Vine and YouTube before branching out into the movie world. He stars in the movie as the main character, Rudy, and even based a good portion of the movie on his own life experiences. Paired opposite is Camila Mendes, who has recently expanded her filmography after gaining initial popularity while appearing in Riverdale. Other cast members are J.B. Smoove, who makes appearances throughout the film as Rudy’s friend, and Francesca Beale as Rudy’s ex-girlfriend.


While Música has all the conventions of a typical romantic comedy, with many of the characters only existing in tandem with the protagonist’s story, it isn’t just that. It is a film that defies expectations in other ways, making it not only unique but also a standout in the world of rom-coms. This is one of those movies where it not only becomes pretty easy to smile while watching the events unfold on screen, but it’s difficult not to root for the main character as he runs through the motions and tries to figure out a solution to his many plights.


Finding Yourself in Transient Moments

Música

Música

4/5

Release Date
April 4, 2024

Director
Rudy Mancuso

Runtime
91 Minutes

Writers
Rudy Mancuso , Dan Lagana

Pros

  • Creative and well-executed portrayal of synesthesia
  • Great chemistry between the central pair
  • Culturally rich and authentic
  • A refreshing, unique rom-com
Cons

  • The third act’s pacing is rushed, making the finale feel slightly lacking in depth


We begin Música by learning about its protagonist: Rudy (Rudy Mancuso), who is named after the actor and creator of the film. He lives in New Jersey, grapples with the impacts of synesthesia in his everyday life, and is struggling not only to get through his marketing classes at university but with seeing his girlfriend Haley as well. While he is from the thriving cultures and streets bustling with Brazilian American culture, she comes from a suburban white American family with a handful of microaggressions to greet Rudy with when he’s at their dinner table.

Haley decides she has had enough of Rudy’s spaciness, and tells him that she needs time away from the relationship. At the beginning of the film, Rudy shuffles through his everyday life in a similar routine: he brings his puppet to the subways of Newark to try and get some cash here and there, he visits his friend who owns a food truck, his mother nags him about finding the perfect Brazilian girl to get married to, and he tries (and fails) to answers questions in his marketing class with Haley. Throughout all of this, the film filters his experiences through the way he sees the world: through music and dance.


However, everything is about to change for Rudy when he walks into a fish market one day. Despite getting hit with a fish while there, he makes eye contact with one of the workers: Isabella (Camila Mendes). He feels a spark when he meets Isabella, and, for the first time in his life recently, he starts to feel like he has met someone who understands him. But because he’s still stuck in this transitory period of his life, a love triangle between him, his girlfriend, and Isabella ensues as he tries to rediscover himself.

Culture, Performance, and Authenticity


Música often feels like a breath of fresh air, even if the film does follow the age-old formula for romantic comedies. What makes it come alive is its depiction of synesthesia; as Rudy wanders through his everyday life, and in the midst of conversations, the film creates beats and dances to the tune of how his brain sees the world. There are no lyrics, only beats to provide sensations and emotions mirroring the dialogue and actions happening on-screen.

Música is named after this vibrant musical layer that features prominently throughout the film, and it provides a heartbeat that guides the film throughout its runtime. While many filmmakers — neurodivergent or not — have tried to capture the essence of this experience on camera, this is a movie that does an excellent job of doing just that. It is seamlessly integrated, conveying Rudy’s experience without setting him apart from those around him. This is where the movie shines the most: in making each scene, a display of culture and life, feel present rather than getting weighed down by exposition.


A Brief but Entertaining Journey

Musica -- Camila Mendes as Isabella
Amazon Studios

Música clocks in at a little over 90 minutes, with its editing sharp. Throughout the course of the film, nothing feels like it’s missing from the narrative in itself, but even when the climactic moment occurs and everyone realizes Rudy is dating two different girls at once, it starts to feel slightly rushed. Maybe that can be perceived as a broader indicator of how quickly all of these things happen in real life, but those looking for more substance might find themselves disappointed in how quickly this movie flies by.


Regardless, Música is a classic romantic comedy that weaves in a vital form of representation. Not only is the main character, Rudy, seeing the world through the perspective of someone with synesthesia, but through him and Isabella we get a wonderful insight into Brazilian American culture. As with Rudy’s synesthesia, there are no over-the-top explanations here, the world of Música just makes sense.

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While the narrative arc is simple when it comes to the romance and the tensions that stem from it, the film increasingly feels more real and alive with how personal it gets with fleshing out Rudy’s world. Ultimately, it is no surprise that Mancuso based certain aspects of the film on his own life, even filming certain parts of the movie in a restaurant and market he frequented. The scenes within his mom’s home in the movie were actually his mother’s real-life home as well.


Full of Heart and Soul

Musica -- Rudy plays the piano
 Amazon Studios

Brazilian representation in Hollywood has been scarce, but Música taps into the heart of its diaspora and makes it come alive in a way that not only feels authentic but also does not try to explain itself to those who are not from the community. These characters exist as they are unapologetically, naturally living inside the worlds they have always inhabited.

It also certainly helps that Rudy and Isabella have excellent chemistry. From the moment when Rudy is first hit by a flying fish and meets Isabella for the first time, it becomes hard not to cheer for these two, even as his former girlfriend appears back in the picture. It also becomes easier to shake our heads when Rudy digs himself into a deeper hole by becoming involved with both women at the same time.


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At the core of the film, though, is Rudy Mancuso. He is a standout throughout the course of the movie, delivering a compelling performance that, despite the consistent rom-com tropes manifesting in different ways with each character, reflects the anxieties and troubles that many young people are going through in this day and age.

This movie is a lot of fun to watch, making it a unique and necessary addition to the romantic comedy genre that feels fitting for this day and age. Mancuso certainly has made himself someone to watch out for with this directorial debut, boldly defying the expectation social media stars can’t make good movies. Sometimes, they really do know how to make a movie that has a soul and a beat to it.


Música is out on Amazon Prime Video on April 4, 2024.

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