Musica (2024) Movie Review – Rudy Mancuso takes viewers on a rhythmic journey

Rudy Mancuso takes viewers on a rhythmic journey

Musica is a romantic comedy about a Brazilian American college student named Rudy living in Newark. At the movie’s beginning, Rudy is sitting in a restaurant with his longtime girlfriend and classmate Haley as she talks about future plans, getting away from Newark and moving together in the city.

Rudy is easily distracted by the sounds around him, such as the chopping, the clinking of glasses, the sounds of the cutlery, and footsteps; they all sound like rhythms in his head. Haley gets angry, thinking Rudy neither pays attention to her nor takes life seriously, and breaks up with him.

Rudy’s mother, Maria, wants him to find a lovely Brazilian girl, and she quickly sets him up with one when he tells her about the breakup. However, Rudy feels stuck since he only wants to follow through with making music and puppetry. He tries to get advice from his friend, Anwar, but their outlook on life is very different, sending Rudy spinning until he runs into Isabella. The two form a magical bind, but Rudy is torn between pursuing his feelings for Isabella and making up with Haley. 

Musica is an autobiography based on Rudy’s life. He tells the story of how he uses puppets and music to cope with his condition of hearing music during mundane everyday activities. It explores his life as he attempts to come to terms with the uncertainties of a future as a music creator and a puppeteer while handling the pressures of family, love, and culture.

The narrative is a coming-of-age story that tells Rudy’s experiences with synaesthesia, a condition where a person can taste colour or hear sounds that trigger visual responses, and in his case, it turns normal sounds into rhythm. It shows Rudy’s struggle to connect with others, as he gets distracted easily and involuntarily.

Consequently, Musica delivers a charming love story that is funny and compelling. In addition, the movie subtly explores Brazilian culture in Newark through friendly neighbourhoods with nosy neighbours, caring mothers, and lively, colourful sceneries in the streets through authentic Brazilian sounds and instruments. 

Rudy’s performance is exceptional as he tries to visually transport viewers through living with synaesthesia. His acting is naturally aloof and spontaneous. In the movie, he makes cowardly choices, portraying him as indecisive and inconsiderate. Regardless, Rudy is creative, and his acting is profoundly captivating.

The onscreen chemistry between Rudy and Isabella is phenomenal, and their interactions are refreshingly natural. Isabella is a sweet, gorgeous, and humble person. She is supportive and understanding, which gives Rudy a chance to try to introduce her to his world. Even when she does not understand what he sees, she still appreciates his feelings and love for his visions, contributing to a degree of emotional investment in the movie.

On the other hand, the support characters, including Haley, Mari, and Anwar, are meticulously crafted to accentuate Rudy’s feelings and help the viewers better understand his experiences. 

Musica is an impressive work of art, doubling as a musical and a romantic comedy. The production and cinematography transports the audience back to the theatre, reminding us of the importance of props, costumes, setting, and the love of cinema.

The major letdown of the movie is the rushed ending that does not give the audience a chance to appreciate the process that Rudy goes through to transform his subway puppetry act into sold-out shows. Regardless, Musica excels in all aspects and highlights Rudy’s exceptional talent through an impressive script and cinematic visuals. 

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  • Verdict - 9/10

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