THE MUSIC OF SILENCE Review: An Operatic Exercise In Pointlessness

Let this music lull you to sleep.

Biopics absolutely should not be a simple collection of scenes conveying the life of a prominent person placed in chronological order. Narrative films are primarily storytelling vehicles, and to tell a person's life story is to find a narrative throughline to the defining moments and create an arc that demonstrates how that person grew and changed as a result of their experiences. The Music of Silence falls flat largely from a misunderstanding of that very principle, even going so far as to adapt the memoir of the person it primarily depicts but failing to find mileage in the apparent titular lesson.

The film is about famed opera singer Andrea Bocelli, though for whatever reason the character is referred to using the pseudonym Amos Bardi (played by Toby Sebastian). Amos was born with a condition that left him mostly blind, so he learned from a young age that in order to succeed he must strive harder than others to achieve the same results or, better yet, come out as even more successful. When he discovers a talent for operatic singing, he strives hard to become renowned for his voice, and what do you know, he does.

This is largely achieved by training under the Maestro (Antonio Banderas), who teaches Amos that the value of his voice is preserved by speaking minimally and using his vocal chords primarily to express and develop his talent. It's fairly obvious what this does for Amos's professional advancement, but what does this mean for Amos as a character? Is his transition from righteous anger at a world that refuses to accommodate him to a more zen-like attitude born of silence a demonstration of growth? That may have been Amos's intended arc and could very well have been the real Bocelli's experience, but the substance of such an arc can only be inferred from flat scenes that play out without much thought as to how they connect to one another into a cohesive whole.

This could have been saved by some decent performances, but unfortunately director Michael Radford encouraged performances with the exaggerated cadences of a soap opera. Now, this may be appropriate considering Amos' operatic ambitions, but the main reason that operas and musicals are so broad in their emotional conveyance is because the music carries some of the expressive weight. In The Music of Silence, the performances are wildly expressive, but the music is a background element and plot device, not an integral part of the experience, so the reality of the film comes across as inappropriately heightened for the dull version of events it depicts.

The Music of Silence isn't awful, but there is nothing to recommend the experience either. The assemblage of scenes that allegorically portray Andrea Bocelli's life are devoid of overarching meaning, making the film boring in a way that isn’t even rectified by the constant overacting. The singing is nice, but if that's what you're here for, you're better served just listening to a Bocelli record.

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