Sunday, February 04, 2018

The Music of Silence: The Andrea Bocelli Story, Sort of

For his novelish memoiry thing, pop-tenor Andrea Bocelli chose not to write about himself, but his alter-analog, Amos Bardi. Based on the subsequent film adaptation, we can readily see why he would want to maintain a layer of separation between himself and the treacly story. It is especially trying to spend so much time with Bardi as a sickly child, seeing precious little of the opera world most fans presumably came for. Indeed, the balance is all off throughout Michael Radford’s The Music of Silence (trailer here), which is now playing in New York.

Cheers to Bocelli (and Bardi, whoever he might be) for overcoming adversity to become one of the most successful tenors in the world. Granted, he has cut some purist-rankling pop sessions, but he can still land “Nessun Dorma” as well as anyone. Unfortunately, we only hear it over the closing credits of Silence. Instead, we sit through two full acts of Bardi’s childhood surgeries and years spent in a boarding school for the blind.

Music really isn’t in the picture until Bardi’s bachelor uncle takes him to a talent contest, which he nails. Yet, just as young Bardi develops a reputation, his voice changes, prompting years of silence. However, under the tough but protective tutelage of “The Maestro,” twenty-something Bardi once again finds his voice, but can he find fame too?

Frankly, it is hard to care about the wooden Bardi and his by-the-numbers success story. If anything, this portrait-of-the-artist-as-a-young-man is bizarrely passive, largely revolving around whether or not Italian rock star Zucchero would ever call him for a vaguely promised joint-performance. Right, so let’s just keep watching the phone.

Most of the cast is blandly boring, in a TV movie kind of way, including Toby Sebastian as the Bardi fellow. However, Antonio Banderas brings a bit of flair to the film as the unnamed “Maestro.” He has definitely been scuffling the last few years, but his work ethic has not flagged (apparently, quite the contrary) and he has livened up a number of almost direct-to-DVD movies (but honestly, Bullet Head and Acts of Vengeance are really good). Alas, there is not much that he can do here.

The blandness of Silence is a bit surprisingly, considering it was helmed by a refined craftsman like Michael Radford, who directed Il Postino, 1984, White Mischief, and a documentary about the late, great Michel Petrucciani. Maybe he just wanted a holiday in Tuscany. At least there is nothing really terrible or otherwise objectionable about the film. It is just boring. Not recommended, The Music of Silence is now playing in New York, at the Cinema Village.