Sia’s harmonious burst of creativity and talent has become her signature in many ways. We’ve seen it imbued in her music, music videos and wardrobe.
But while such adroitness is something to be proud off, it can also backfire as has been the case with the singer-songwriter’s controversial feature film, “Music”.
Don’t get me wrong, I admire her bravery in wanting to tackle autism, a subject which has been fodder for Hollywood for many years, materialising in offerings like “Rain Man’, “Mercury Rising” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”.
Of course, such a bold move attracts attention. As such, Sia has come under fire for casting a neurotypical actress and, more recently, for a restraint scene in the musical drama, which led to her deleting her Twitter account.
Having watched “Music”, I do feel like her vision in wanting to tell a powerful story is derailed by her ambitious execution.
The story, co-written with children’s book author, Dallas Clayton, centres on Music (Maddie Ziegler), a teenager with autism, who is lovingly raised by her grandmother Millie (Mary Kay Place) until she passes away unexpectedly.
Thankfully, Music lives in a neighbourhood where the community is close and she has several individuals that look after her until her half-sister, Zu (Kate Hudson), arrives.
At first, Zu is unsure how to care for Music. Through the help and guidance of Ebo (Leslie Odom Jr.), she eases into Music’s routine, which includes her hair being braided while she has her eggs for breakfast.
Next, she goes on a stroll, visits a library and gets treats along the way. He also teaches Zu how to calm Music down when she gets scared due to over-stimulation.
Music is never without her headphones. The songs help drown out the noises around her.
Meanwhile, Zu is working through her own issues, which include staying sober and getting a job. She’s been in trouble with the law and she’s hoping for a fresh start - without Music.
As the story progresses the once tenuous bond between Music and Zu transforms into one that is more close-knit.
Although the movie grabbed two nominations for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical at the upcoming 78th Golden Globe Awards, there’s no ignoring its flaws.
By splitting the screen time with the budding romance between Ebo and Zu, Zu’s meltdown and a plethora of whimsical dance interludes, Sia derails from the whole motif of the film.
Hudson, who shaved her head for the role, is a marvel. She plays her character’s conflicted emotional state with aplomb.
Much was asked of Ziegler and she delivers in her dual role. She embodies the behavioural patterns of her character with commendable dexterity. And she impresses in those beautifully choreographed dance fantasy scenes, which offered a burst of colour and energy.
While Sia clearly got the casting right, she didn’t fulfil her resolve to tell a story that is insightful, impactful and captivating.
Instead, she delivered a musical drama that is repetitive and, dare I say it, soulfully tone-deaf!
“Music” is showing at cinemas, nationwide, as well as DStv’s BoxOffice.