top of page
  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'Music' Review: Sia's Directorial Debut Starring Maddie Ziegler & Kate Hudson

Kate Hudson holding Maddie Ziegler's head on her shoulder
Vertical Entertainment

Whenever someone clearly didn't bother to write a proper screenplay for their film, especially for one that has a budget of $16 million, you should really ask yourself why you would then bother to write about it. I most certainly asked that question after watching Music, which was directed and co-written by Sia in her film debut, and decided that it might as well work as a therapy session for today.

You've probably figured out from the title that it's a musical drama but Music is also a character, played by Maddie Ziegler here. She is a non-verbal autistic teen whose dreams become elaborate musical and dance sequences. After her mother suddenly passes, her recently sobered up half-sister Zu (Kate Hudson) comes to take care of her, while a friendly neighbour Ebo (Leslie Odom Jr.) helps them out. Even beyond some questionable portrayal of autism, the ''movie'' is a totally incoherent attempt at storytelling, getting worse by each decision made.

First things first, the actors did show up and Ziegler can't really be at fault for her performance because of her age and clear absence of direction. The blame should go towards the ideas, the execution and editing all of it together. In the kindest way possible, Music feels like it was half-heartedly written by someone who has seen (note: not watched but seen) six films at most and has never read a single script. The work of Sia and co-writer Dallas Clayton in that department is embarrassing at best as characters simply just do things for the sake of doing them, none of them having any impact on character arcs or following scenes.

You'd also think that the story was about Music since she's in the title but most of it revolves around Zu. The baffling thing about that is that the story of Zu's ''learning'' and ''taking responsibility'' happens to be both unoriginal and a waste of time because it's so boring. You never feel like Zu deserves to have any relationship with Music in any regard.

And when you get tired of Zu's antics, you get punched more by awkwardly staged breakdowns of Music, completely out-of-place D-story about their neighbour Felix and, you guessed it, the magical black friend trope which is Odom Jr.'s Ebo. None of them have nuance and none of them feel written by someone who cares. Sia could quite honestly also use film school for basic filmmaking stuff since the acting has a lot of ''Do what feels right, actors!'' vibes because there isn't a single frame in the movie that looks like it's important. Sometimes actors just go to the edges, rotate their body or even wander off frame, almost like Sia didn't check if the performance was even captured by the camera.

Even the musical scenes feel non-cinematic as the transitions into them are as fluid as a stone, colour palettes are nauseating and none of the songs matter. You heard correctly - we barely learn anything about the characters from the lyrics, the songs have no sonic connection to each other and not one of them has breakout potential because the choruses are so average. Music just doesn't play out like a film, it's barely even a 107 minutes long music video.

Smileys: Nothing really

Frowneys: Screenplay, story, directing, characterisation, soundtrack

False notes, off pitch, ''boo them off the stage'', local band energy, commercial flop, not even worth pirating, needs Auto-Tune, music not for your ears etc. Take your pick of the metaphors.


After Misery's logo with the text ''all things film & television'' underneath it.
bottom of page