SXSW 2024: Actor and Director Rudy Mancuso Transports Audiences to a World of Possibilities Through His Fresh New Rom-Com, ‘Música’

8 April 2024 / by Nicole. Soroka
Musica Review
SXSW 2024: Actor and Director Rudy Mancuso Transports Audiences to a World of Possibilities Through His Fresh New Rom-Com, ‘Música’
This colourful tale of love and heartbreak establishes Mancuso as an up-and-coming force within the film industry.

Romantic comedies often have a way of re-telling the same, simple story over and over again; filmmakers tend to recycle a formula that is proven to work. Two individuals meet, they both develop mutual attraction, someone must overcome a roadblock but eventually confess their undying love. While these stories work for a reason, (who doesn’t want to believe in the notion that above all else, love prevails?), it’s hard to successfully create a hit when audiences can already anticipate the outcome. 


Rudy Mancuso takes a risk with his feature directorial debut and brings to life a story that strays away from the formula, and it works. While the structure of a traditional rom-com is very much present, Música not only delivers a believable love story and rich representation of Brazilian-American culture, but it also educates viewers on a condition that many may be unfamiliar with. 


Alongside Mancuso stars Camila Mendes, Francesca Reale, J.B. Smoove and Mancuso’s real-life mother, Maria Mancuso. Co-written by R. Mancuso and Dan Lagana, the pair created a beautifully told story. Música is also the second executive producer credit for Mendes.


Set in Newark, New Jersey, Música tells the story of college senior and street performer, Rudy (Mancuso), who is struggling to set a path for his future. While his longtime girlfriend, Haley (Reale), is eagerly planning their new lives together, she is also struggling to see Rudy having a successful future in the arts. As he feels stuck between following his heart and following the advice of those around him, Rudy meets Isabella (Mendes). As the pair grow close, Rudy begins to feel that Isabella is one of the few people who truly supports his passion and attempts to understand his condition, synesthesia; Synesthesia is a condition where an individual experiences a number of senses at the same time. As R. Mancuso demonstrates in Música, he experiences “rhythmic association,” which causes him to hear music in most simple sounds and settings. On top of establishing his future post-graduation, Rudy must now choose between two girls who both offer him a different glimpse of their future together. 


Música had its world premiere on March 13 at the South by Southwest Film and TV Festival in Austin, Texas. The film is set to be released for streaming on Prime Video on April 4. Música has received early reviews from critics, currently sitting at a 7.2/10 rating on IMDb


Nicole - Musica 2024
Photo courtesy of Nicole Soroka


Música is a refreshing take on the modern-day rom-com. Contrary to its title, the film is not a musical, but it does include a number of musical elements throughout. R. Mancuso brilliantly incorporated a variety of sounds throughout Música to not only provide viewers with a visualization as to how synesthesia affects his everyday life, but it also added a desirable level of vibrancy to the film. 


While the synesthesia is hard to explain with words, Música educates audiences on how it impairs the lives of those who live with the condition, while shining a light on the number of ways it can enhance an individual’s artistic abilities. 


In terms of the love triangle that exists within this film, it’s hard to truly love or hate any character. Isabella and Rudy seem like the obvious couple to root for because she understands his love for the arts and supports him in pursuing a future in his passion. On the other hand, Haley and Rudy have been with each other for so long, you can’t blame her for feeling frustrated when he no longer seems interested in pursuing the future they once both expressed a longing for. Each cast member delivers an outstanding performance, with M. Mancuso and Smoove standing out in the comedy department. 


This film works because it tells a human story that so many individuals may be able to connect with. R. Mancuso highlights Brazilian-American culture throughout the entirety of this film and brings some of his own family members on screen to do so. It is his bravery and willingness to share such a personal experience with the world that will be sure to draw audiences in. 


In addition to this, this storyline will keep viewers guessing right until the last few moments of the film. With most rom-coms, it’s pretty easy to assume how the movie will play out. However, Música continues to follow an innovative formula and concludes the film in a way that is not only satisfying as an audience member, but realistic to how many individuals may have experienced love in their own lives. While many films are a great way to escape the (sometimes unwelcome) realities of life, films like Música remind us that even our favourite on-screen characters can see life through our own eyes. 


Música is an eye-opening film that rom-com lovers didn’t know they needed. From the wonderful on-screen chemistry between R. Mancuso and Mendes, to the electric energy that the film establishes early on, this new flick is not to be missed!


You can stream Música on Prime Video beginning April 4.