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Review: Music (2021)

Music (2021)

Directed by: Sia

Premise: A recovering addict (Kate Hudson) discovers that she is now the guardian of her autistic half-sister named Music.  

What Works: Music comes from pop musician Sia. She’s credited as director and co-writer and she created many of the film’s original songs. Sia is an artist with a unique and wacky style and Music reflects that. The film periodically breaks into musical sequences that are supposed to represent the way the autistic character sees the world. The film earns some points just for its strangeness.

What Doesn’t: The problem with the music sequences is not their eccentricity. But the songs of a musical should advance the characters and plot or at least deepen our understanding. The set pieces of Music don’t do that. It’s just weirdness for its own sake and doesn’t provide insight into the autistic character. However, what’s far more troubling about Music is the film’s regard for its disabled and minority characters. The supporting characters aren’t people. They’re props. The film centers on Zu, a recovering addict who by default becomes the caregiver to Music, her autistic half-sister. Neither Zu nor the filmmakers are really interested in the autistic woman’s needs and yet both expect to be patted on the head for doing the bare minimum. Zu is neighbored by a black immigrant named Ebo (Leslie Odom Jr.) who is constantly doing the actual work of caring for Music and both Zu and the filmmakers take his service for granted. An Asian family lives across the street and they are so thinly drawn that they are barely even stereotypes. The plot doesn’t make internal sense. Zu supports herself by dealing drugs but in an act of stupidity she loses a package worth thousands of dollars. No consequences follow. She owes money to the supplier and her landlord but that’s all just ignored with no resolution.

Bottom Line: Music carries on as some kind of humanist statement about compassion. It’s not. The film offers no insight into the lives of autistic people and it alternates cringy musical numbers with a stupid and exploitative story.  

Episode: #890 (February 6, 2022)