By Jess Fenton
12th January 2021

When the trailer for 'Music' dropped so many months ago, many people were up in arms about the film's casting choices and representation of those on the autism spectrum. Watching Sia dig a deeper hole for herself via Twitter I, a neurotypical, just kinda sat back and pondered whether the movie itself would be any good. Sure, Sia could crank out a banger or 20, create memorable music videos, and possess a wig collection that would make Cher jealous - but could she write and direct a feature film? As I said, I'm not a member of the autistic community, either directly or indirectly. My experience with members of said community is sporadic and limited at best. I can't tell you nor will I comment on its representation and portrayal in this film, but as for the film itself, well... I have some thoughts.

Zu (short for Kazu and portrayed by Kate Hudson, 'Almost Famous', and totally rockin' the buzzed fuzz) is a recently sober, current drug dealer who has just discovered her grandmother has died (Mary Kay Place, 'Sweet Home Alabama') and she must now take care of her half-sister Music (Maddie Ziegler - yeah, the amazing dancer from aaaaaall those Sia videos). Music is practically non-verbal, except for a few routine phrases such as "make two eggs" and "go to bed". She dresses herself each morning, has her hair braided, goes to the library to read the same book on dogs, and at night she watches a (fictional) Tig Notaro show. With the help of newly-acquired neighbours, Ebo (Leslie Odom Jr, 'Hamilton') and George (Hector Elizondo, 'Pretty Women'), Zu learns to take care of Music in her own way while trying to achieve her dream of setting up shop in Paradise, Costa Rica and living the good life... Music-free. But her immaturity, struggling sobriety and current occupation are set to derail everything.


So before you say anything... yes, this movie is why Kate shaved her head three years ago. Does her hair have any significance in this movie? No. No, it doesn't not. It was clearly a look Sia wanted, and Kate complied. End of story. Based solely on the title, the imagery of Maddie in headphones and knowing there were musical set pieces in the film, I walked into this assuming that the character of Music perhaps had an affinity for music, guessing it was maybe her calming device and/or she was non-verbal yet communicated through music. I was wrong on all accounts. Okay, so maybe the music numbers were in place to convey her emotional stasis? Nope. Wrong again. Quite frankly, their presence continues to be a mystery to me, even now. However, for the hardcore Sia fans, there are many - each one filled with fantastical imagery, costumes to make Lady Gaga drool, and that signature Sia choreography - which, quite frankly, is getting old; after all, it has been almost seven years since that 'Chandelier' video. And by the end of the film, they do start to feel a bit TikTok-y, or is that just me?

Sia clearly has an artist's eye but not a storyteller's pen.

As far as Sia's filmmaking chops go, she clearly has an artist's eye but not a storyteller's pen. Full of uninspired tropes and grossly predictable, 'Music' offers nothing new to cinema-goers, and even less for Sia and Maddie Ziegler fans. People are looking for a lot more to venture outside these days, and I'm sorry to say this isn't it.

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