Yes the movie that cancel culture didn’t want you to see is finally in cinemas. Now that I have had the chance to sit down and watch the film I can honestly tell you that once again the cancel culture brigade were way off the mark and well and truly barking up the wrong tree when it came to their criticism of Music.
Of course though, should we be surprised? Two very obvious things stood out from the criticism of this film as it surfaced around the internet. Firstly the people criticising the film had never ever seen it and secondly from a lot of their comments you could tell that many had very little knowledge about autism as a condition and even less about filmmaking.
I don’t write this review as ‘just another film critic’ like I am sure people will want to point out in the comments section. I write this as somebody who has not only been in the director’s and screenwriter’s chair but also as someone who has grown up with a cousin with autism and has volunteered to work with a number of people with a range of disabilities over the years.
And that is how I knew the arguments of the cancel culture about this film were ill-informed and just completely cruel. See, I’ve been there when my family has struggled to get my cousin to sit under an umbrella because it has terrified him or watched family members literally have to fight with him to get him into a car and the thing is my cousin is slightly autistic, yet the cancel culture would have you believe that the filmmakers behind this film could easily have found someone on the extreme spectrum of autism who could have not only acted throughout this film but also done some high level dance sequences… yep good luck with that.
What that certain brigade missed though was the opportunities of this film. It is films like this that give people a better understanding of what not only autism is like but what life is like for those that have to care for the person with autism. I will openly admit that when I was young I was pretty much afraid of my cousin, it took me sitting down when I was a little older and watching Rain Man to see what life was like for him and that point I not only understood him but became his friend. But of course according to the people arguing about Music Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal in Rain Man is now considered ‘offensive.’
What the people criticising Music don’t realise is that this film will have the same effect on some people as Rain Man did on me. Suddenly those cool school girls that listen to Sia’s (who directed and wrote the film) music might finally see that that girl they exclude from everything because she is ‘different’ isn’t as different as they thought and those pop-culture boys who currently throw food at the ‘weirdo’ at the bus are now going to see that person as a person.
Now I am not going to sit here and say that Music is a masterpiece. The film has its weaknesses but there is also a power and a heart to this film that you just don’t get with a lot of the blockbuster in our cinemas these days. In fact this is the film that is more at home in an arthouse cinema than is in a multiplex.
Kate Hudson (Almost Famous) plays Zu, a young woman whose partying lifestyle and alcohol problem has stopped her from ever being a sister to her autistic half-sister Music (Maddie Ziegler – The Book Of Henry). However with the sudden death of her grandmother suddenly Zu finds herself having to look after Music.
Her only support comes from a kind-hearted landlord George (Hector Elizondo – Pretty Woman) who has distrusted Zu after she stole from him and caring neighbour Ebo (Leslie Odom Jnr. – Red Tails).
They are both surprised to learn though that Zu’s plan does not involve her caring for Music for long. Her plan is to make enough money from drug dealing to place Music in a home and then move to ‘paradise’ herself.
When you watch Music you realise that the plot is pretty basic but having said that though it does hold up and does provide some suspenseful and dramatic moments throughout. The idea of going into dance sequences to show how Music views the world shows that Sia’s creativity from her musical career certainly carries over into her filmmaking as well. They also give Sia the opportunity to create a very creative soundtrack and while the music works throughout the film it perhaps would have been nice to have had a couple of recognisable tracks appear here and there as well.
Where the true power comes from this film though is through the acting. Kate Hudson is at her award-winning best playing the damaged Zu. Despite her bad life choices and at times cruel decisions the portrayal of the character by Hudson makes her likable. If this was supposed to be the fluff piece that some have cruelly labelled it then someone forgot to tell Hudson because she shows up with her A-Game.
She is well matched by Ziegler who should not be criticised for her portrayal of Music – instead she should be praised and being mentioned when it comes to Awards season. Her performance here is very much a break-out performance and I am extremely curious to see where her career goes from here. Hector Eliondo and Leslie Odom Jnr. also bring a warmth to this film, the latter like Ziegler showing that he is capable of just about any role thrown at him in his career.
The key to getting the best experience out of Music is to go into the film and ignore all the negativity surrounding it. The points aimed at this film go right out the window once you have watched it and instead of being labelled as ‘one to avoid’ this is a film that needs to be praised for its unique filmmaking style and the powerful performances by its leading ladies.