The Music of Silence

The rise of musician Andrea Bocelli within the world of opera singing is transposed onto a fictional counterpart in The Music of Silence, a well-meaning but transparently celebratory account of a successful life. The screenplay by Anna Pavignano and director Michael Radford treats the hardships of the stand-in character as minor speed bumps, rather than as sources of genuinely compelling drama. The best way to describe it is that the experience of watching the movie comes close to understanding the gift of hindsight in a literal sense. Someone who had lived these experiences and come out on the other side as a successful person would likely overlook the gravity of having experienced them while they were occurring.

Perhaps that is why the only thing here to carry the weight of that gravity is the condition with which Amos Bardi, said stand-in for Bocelli (who collaborated on the project with its makers and has a guest appearance), was born. It was a form of eye disease that left one eye useless and the other with minimal functionality (and it would eventually run its own clock out by his adulthood). Following a childhood in which he grows to love the practice of opera singing after hearing recordings of Franco Coselli, Amos (Toby Sebastian) struggles to find success with the support of his uncle Giovanni (Ennio Fantastichini), following a few critical voices of disapproval.

The repetition of this theme grows tiresome. The film's length (nearly two hours) is stretched to bending point, leaping great lengths of time and missing the heart of the journey in the process. Only Amos' most successful periods are touched upon until the final half-hour finds him on the verge of fame and prone to stress-induced outbursts of anger. Indeed, the strongest stretch of the film is the portion of its middle act, in which Amos finds love with the sweet-natured Elena (Luisa Ranieri) and professional support in the form of a maestro (played by Antonio Banderas) who toughens up his lungs and prescribes constant rest from speaking.

These scenes are the film's best because they recognize that Amos' (and, by extension, Bocelli's) success came equally from himself and others. Sure, he becomes something of a supporting player in his own story, but the film is acknowledging the universe that surrounds Amos for the first time in these moments and the uphill battle to reach the success he inevitably finds. Otherwise, the screenwriters can only offer feel-good platitudes in the place of emotional beats. There is a good story to be told about Bocelli's life, but The Music of Silence solely provides a cookie-cutter version of that story.

Film Information

Toby Sebastian (Amos), Jordi Molla (Sandro), Luisa Ranieri (Edi), Nadir Caselli (Elena), Ennio Fantastichini (Giovanni), Alessandro Sperduti (Adriano), Antonio Banderas (Maestro).

Directed by Michael Radford and written by Radford and Anna Pavignano.

No MPAA rating.

115 minutes.

Released in select cities on February 2, 2018.

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