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Rudy is a young man in the romantic comedy “Música” who experiences the world through sound. Thus, he hears symphonies of life in everyday noises, thus distracting him daily with its beats from class and his girlfriend Haley (Francesca Reale). To Rudy’s mom Maria (Maria Mancuso), it seems like a good idea for Rudy to date someone within their Brazilian community of Newark, New Jersey. Disobeying these instructions leads him into Isabella (Camila Mendes), who is also Brazilian American by origin and they meet at a local fish market, thus opening doors to an unheard-of melody that sinks deep into his consciousness.

Incidentally, “Música” is at its best when it comes to its title: it includes love story lines, songs and events dedicated to Brazilian customs which start right from the film’s color-coded poster reflecting green being associated with fertility and farming – one of the key drivers of this economy; yellow – symbolizing Brazil’s vast mineral wealth; white – meaning peace among citizens. Through Rudy—a character based on writer and director Rudy Mancuso—we are given insight into synesthesia or sensory blending/mixing up such as tasting sounds or seeing music. His experience was about hearing things that were not there but seemed real enough for him while Stomp was just illustrating how he would sometimes perceive other people speaking normally or going on about their own affairs as very loud disruptions to himself that could only be restrained by stoppers on windowsills or lids over pots occasionally accompanied by handclaps in rhythm with each step taken anywhere else around home making traffic noise far from disturbing our thoughts eventually leading them towards silence before descending into a dystopian slumber where everything becomes silent save drone-ridden skies above all else including soundwaves emanating outwards towards horizon line still passes overhead; planes hover silently like aliens above houses so close yet so far away from reality but then he woke up feeling strangely alive once more under an alien landscape as if this was what life had become since yesterday’s dream ended?

In other words, traffic noise interferes with Rudy’s thinking process and the film incorporates musical numbers that feature everyday objects being turned into musical instruments in a way reminiscent of Stomp, the recently-demised off-Broadway production. It is a bit like “All That Jazz” with Mancuso using song and dance to represent his attempts at relating with others within societal expectations. Besides composing music for “Música,” Mancuso also employs puppetry animation and unconventional set design as tools for helping him paint his artistic vision on screen. While some of the songs or scenes don’t quite resonate as well – such as when the busker is singing outside at train stations, which feels out of place – there are others that are simply jaw-dropping like one long shot showing Rudy running through town trying to please three different women using various locations and props at their disposal that is truly amazing lifting this romantic comedy above all “boy meets girl” stories painted in plain colors because they value form over substance.

Despite a few unpolished areas here and there, Mancuso’s first feature has much that is delicious. One of the film’s romantic themes apart from which are woven with Brazilian cultural connections by Mancuso; he easily switches between English and Portuguese on several occasions, even on a date, he reserves some space for his mother’s homemade feijoada; bossa nova beats and samba dance moves are stitched into the movie’s musical fabric without any noticeable stitch line, but in one funny scene at a restaurant, he drinks many shots of cachaça than anyone else in an American picture. Other thorny aspects of staying too close to home are also addressed such as when Maria (played by Mancuso’s real mother) insists that he must settle down with another Brazilian girl. There is also Haley’s parents’ ignorance about his country where they assume that he speaks Spanish like their Central American housekeeper. And Rudy has to make up his mind whether to correct them or to let it go because it is not worth destroying their family bond over petty issues. It is probable that more than a couple of second and third generation children of immigrants will be able to relate something from this film; still, it stands out because seldom does one get an opportunity to see such experiences portrayed on screen.

The same festive attitude also applies to how Mancuso interacts with her mom who steals scenes. Their relationship in the movie drowns out everything else including Rudy’s meetings with Isabelle that are more like an overly idealized shining example of what could have been and Hayley who used to share our hero’s aspirations and future plans – not anymore though. He ponders on leaving his mom after college and obviously they have quite close relations despite her disdain for his artistry passion dismissive judgmental statements regarding whom she dates him might sound familiar from our own parents as well. After all the names scrolling through at the end credits, Mancuso’s childhood photos are featured alongside the names. And titles of the crew to make “Música” look like a love letter from him. In the end, “Música” is not just another dull romcom movie. It is about finding love in spite of disability, it is about finding music wherever you can get it, and it is about relationship with our culture and our families.

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