A film by Sia
Screening at Wallis Cinemas
Review by Sarah List
Music is Sia. It is personal story, emotion, dance, and a riot of colour, achieved with the help of several long-term collaborators such choreographer Ryan Heffington, and muse Maddie Ziegler.
Based on a chance friendship between Sia and the autistic daughter of a fellow Alcoholics Anonymous attendee, the character of Music inhabits a world seamlessly supported by her grandmother and her neighbours. Music’s tightly scheduled routine allows the feeling of freedom (her morning walks as one example) under distant watchful eyes, and reduces the overwhelming feelings that can emerge in unpredictable circumstances. We experience her internal interludes via daydream musical numbers full of colour and joy. However the frailty of her universe is exposed early when her grandmother suffers a stroke and neighbor George (Hector Elizondo) is forced to contact her only known relative Zu (Kate Hudson) to continue her support network. Zu is preoccupied with her own problems from her long addiction to alcohol (referencing Sia’s personal battle made famous by 2014’s Chandelier), that has forced her into a life of drug dealing go-between and also landed her in prison. Totally unprepared for the utter dependence of Music on her and the necessity of providing an anchored and predictable home life, Zu seems set to cut and run until neighbor Ebo (Leslie Odom Jr) becomes the rock that stabilizes them both. But, Zu’s demons are never far from the surface and the question is – will she recognise that like Music, she needs a support network and has to be willing to allow people close to her?
Music is a film that will hammer at every emotional button you own, and is well told and credibly acted. However the balance between the musical interludes and dramatic script feels a little unbalanced at times. There are moments where the story feels flowing and then you are pulled sideways into a number which takes you off track, and disrupts the forward progression of the narrative. It’s no doubt a challenge to pitch the balance between musical and drama, and the film struggles with this at times. Regardless, this is a worthy watch for both Sia and Maddy Ziegler fans, with a host of cameos and emotionally connected performances.