Rudy Mancuso and Camila Mendes Deliver Stellar Performance in ‘Música

Before Rudy Mancuso ventured into writing, directing, starring in, and composing the music for his stylish debut feature film, “Música,” he captivated audiences with his exuberant short-form videos on Vine (R.I.P). In those six-second clips, many of which you can find compiled on YouTube, Mancuso delved into slapstick comedy, infused with an energetic editing style and lively compositions that mirrored his unique perspective of the world. With synesthesia, a condition where one type of sensory stimulation can trigger reactions in another, Mancuso’s creativity transcends traditional boundaries. For him, a square might evoke a B note, and the letter A always appears in terracotta hues.

“In Música,” Mancuso delves into his personal journey and singular perception to craft a captivating coming-of-age story. Premiering at SXSW and now available on Prime Video, the film follows Rudy, played by Mancuso, as he grapples with the uncertainties of life six weeks before his college graduation. It’s a classic bildungsroman tinged with the conventions of romantic comedy, yet Música’s aesthetic remains dynamic and fluid, echoing the spirit of its creator.

As we meet Rudy in a New Jersey diner, he’s navigating a conversation with his girlfriend Haley, portrayed by Francesca Reale. Amidst the clatter of cutlery and the hum of conversation, Rudy struggles to connect with Haley’s concerns, ultimately leading to their breakup. This sends the synesthetic artist into a temporary spiral, torn between his passion for music and puppetry and the allure of a stable career in advertising.

Mancuso portrays Rudy’s existential crisis through vibrant scenes inspired by his early Vine and YouTube endeavors. With each moment, he masterfully uses Rudy’s condition as a springboard for artistic exploration, choreographing sequences that pulsate with energy and spontaneity. However, amidst the visual splendor, the screenplay, co-written by Mancuso and Dan Lagana, occasionally falters to sustain the same allure.

After parting ways with Haley, Rudy’s journey takes an unexpected turn when he encounters Isabella, portrayed by Camila Mendes. Their humorous meeting evolves into an electric connection, challenging Rudy’s perceptions and expanding his appreciation for his Newark neighborhood, the Ironbound.

As Rudy navigates a painfully awkward love triangle, viewers are treated to moments of humor and introspection, yet the narrative sometimes feels constrained by predictability. However, when Isabella offers glimpses of her complexity, the film transcends clichés, delving into themes of heritage, identity, and the pursuit of new traditions.

“Música” is more than just a boy-meets-girl story; it’s a vibrant tapestry woven from Rudy’s unique worldview and the rich tapestry of his surroundings. With each scene, Rudy and Isabella’s connection deepens, offering audiences a poignant exploration of love, culture, and the quest for self-discovery.

In summary, “Música” is worth watching to experience Rudy Mancuso’s singular vision brought to life on the silver screen. With its captivating visuals and heartfelt performances, it’s a journey that resonates long after the credits roll.