(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: This is a fictionalized autobiography of one of the most popular singers of all time, Andrea Bocelli. It is based on his semi-autobiographical novel, THE MUSIC OF SILENCE. The film is really a showcase not of characters in his life, but of music that Bocelli has loved. Only secondarily the music is tied together with a story based on Bocelli's life. While the film is telling of the singer's boyhood the film has direction. Once the singer grows up the storytelling becomes muddled. Michael Radford directs, but his effort is more to show off the music than to delve into the souls of his characters with much complexity. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10

Andrea Bocelli is one of the most popular singers in the world. Born nearly blind with eyesight that would fail entirely at age twelve, he learned to absolutely adore music. He sang as a child but gave up singing and only went back to it as a profession in the 1980s. He sings popular music and opera. He is now considered among the very finest singers in the world. Many people know of him from the popular song "Con Te Partiro" ("Time to Say Goodbye"). There is a link to the song on YouTube below. (It tends to be an earworm.) Curiously while this is Bocelli's signature melody, it is never played in the film until the very end of the end titles. To date, Bocelli has sold over 80 million records worldwide.

THE MUSIC OF SILENCE is a musical biography of Andrea Bocelli, based upon his autobiography. The musical biography is a form that has been with us at least since the 1940s when there were such bios as A SONG TO REMEMBER (1945) about Chopin and NIGHT AND DAY (1946) about Cole Porter. The biographical portion is generally just a frame for pieces of music (often by the supposed subject of the film). The accuracy of the framing story is usually of secondary importance. NIGHT AND Day's version of Cole Porter's life is miles wide of the mark--so much so the film bore almost no resemblance to DE-LOVELY (2004), a second biopic about Porter. THE MUSIC OF SILENCE is a semi-autobiographical story by Andrea Bocelli. The film is filled with music from Bocelli's career and his love of great music. The film has abundant pieces of music, especially from Puccini.

While I do not know specifics, undoubtedly the framing story has some of the rougher edges smoothed down. The film tells the story of Amos Bardi (played in the film as an adult by Toby Sebastian). Amos was born with severe glaucoma. We see the world through his eyes as just some blurry shapes. He cannot see visual beauty but he can hear great music. As a baby he cries almost all the time, but the one thing that will calm him is to hear opera music. His problems multiply when as a teenager he has a football accident and goes entirely blind. But his whole life from a baby to a young man is an on-again, off-again relation with music, singing music and making it. His curse is that he has a very good voice, but not what it would need to be great. Also hurting his career is that he refuses to submit to authority. He is his own man and lives his life that way.

While Amos is a young man the viewer wants to see him succeed. The film has direction. Later the story is not so keenly told. We see disagreements that Amos has with other people and betrayals. But we have lost investment in the character and will go along mostly for the musical pieces that come wrapped in the story. Take away the musical interludes and the film needs more to engage the viewer. The characters are thin and needed to be developed more.

Sadly, the greatness of the music is not enough to pull the viewer into the story. If one does not love the music the film loses all its appeal. I rate The MUSIC OF SILENCE a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.

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Andrea Bocelli singing "Con Te Partiro":

					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2018 Mark R. Leeper