Amazon Premieres ‘Música’ at SXSW: A Review

From the moment I knew I was attending SXSW, I knew I had to watch Amazon Prime’s Música. The film, which releases today, was written, directed, and features former Vine star and Brazilian-Italian actor Rudy Mancuso, starring alongside his significant other, the effervescent Camila Mendes. Prior to the screening, Mancuso came on stage to share a few words, thanking everyone involved, “Starting with the love of my life, both on and off screen, Camila Mendes. She’s incredible, she’s a nut, she’s funny, and beautiful. Beyond being a costar, she was a co-producer. She really elevated the material beyond words.” In the film, Mancuso plays an exaggerated version of himself as the story loosely follows the early years of his career. While there are elements of a romantic comedy, the key inspiration was actually Mancuso’s neurological condition, Synesthesia.

“It’s essentially a unique intertwining of the senses, one sense will involuntarily stimulate another sense that has nothing to do with it…I have rhythmic association, amongst a few others. My brain, for as long as I can remember, turns everyday regular sounds into some kind of musical construct. Sometimes [it’s] really cool when you get to use it as a creative asset. But it also becomes very tricky… And, sometimes even terrorizing. But it’s a real thing, and if you don’t believe me I’ll stop telling you and I’ll just show you. So without further ado, here’s Música.” The title alone had me hooked, the cast reeled me in even further, and by the time I was seated in the theater surrounded by Amazon execs, I was beyond excited.

The first thing I noticed was just how theatrical Música was. Mancuso has an eye for cinematography, and it shows. Every scene, every transition, every beat was accentuated by a musical addition. The slamming of ketchup on a table, the beat of a basketball hitting the floor, the rhythmic noises of a heated conversation. And the cinematography wasn’t just sonic. It was imbued in everything. Mancuso’s stylings were such a standout that it felt as if someone mixed the choreography and theatrics of Lin-Manuel’s Into The Heights with Wes Anderson’s art direction. Something wholly unique, fresh, and innovative. This identity was even more solidified in the way Mancuso separated the film into chapters, with words like “melody”, “dissonance”, “dynamics”. Watching this film, I knew in my soul the stylings of Música were going to inspire generations of filmmakers. 

The second thing I noticed was that I’d never actually seen a Brazilian lead character. I mean truly when I think back on the various ways Latinos portray ambiguously Latino backgrounds, none have ever been Brazilian. None have ever spoken Portuguese, or had Brazilian family dynamics, went to meet family in Brazil. And I’m not the only one who felt that way, this is what initially drew Camila Mendes to the role, “I’ve never been able to play a Brazilian-American in any movie ever. Normally I feel like I’m playing other different types of Latina characters, that are always Spanish-speaking. So for me, it’s been a dream of mine to bring more representation for Brazilians. And then I got the script and I was like oh he’s doing it. He’s already doing it. I want to be part of that moment.” 

Música Panel after screening (L – R: Francesca Reale, Camila Mendes, Rudy Mancuso, Maria Mancuso)

Mancuso wanted his directorial debut to depict his heritage as authentically as possible, ““We were very lucky, we were able to shoot where the stories set. It’s set in the heart of Newark, in this area known as the Ironbound. And I spent a lot of time in the Ironbound growing up, frequenting the fishing market, the city streets, the restaurants, so everything from the fish market to the city streets to the fair to Brasilia Grill, the restaurant, are all the actual locations.” This includes Mancuso’s real-life childhood home, where the bulk of the movie takes place. His mother is even portrayed by his actual mother, Maria Mancuso, who was in the audience during the screening, “I was so happy because when I was young, that’s all I wanted was to be an actress.” 

In Mancuso’s own words, “As far as representation goes, Amazon knocked it out of the park.” All these small details came together to create a fully realized and authentic Brazilian story. Emphasizing that the Latino experience is not a monolith. It doesn’t look the same for every person in every culture. This is why we need more stories like this. More diversity within Latino representation, so that everyone can see themselves on the big screen. 

Camila Mendes at the Música After-Party. Photo Credit: Camila Dejesus

Overall the film was incredible, just as heartfelt as it is hilarious. As a creative person myself, I found the actual story really inspiring. I don’t want to say much, so as not to spoil the film, but it’s way more than a romantic comedy. Any amount of summarizing or explaining I could do would never do Mancuso’s artistry justice. Because Música is just that; art. There are entire choreographed scenes or cinematic motifs. The way he uses musical sequences, haphazard sounds, or even just an ever-changing song a man sings at a subway stop to emphasize how the main character is feeling is wildly unique. The creativity and vision Mancuso depicted in even just the opening scene is jaw-dropping. 

After the screening, the film held an after-party open to the public, with Brazilian dancers, music, food, and lots of fun. This wasn’t some exclusive event, but the entire cast, crew, and Amazon team ended up attending as well. It was here that I had the privilege of meeting the incredibly kind Camila Mendes. This after-party is what the film is all about, sharing your culture and creativity as a way to reach out to people. I can’t think of a better way to end the premiere than that. 


Música is officially out to watch on Amazon Prime today, and I highly recommend you check it out. Just watch the first few minutes, and I’m sure you’ll be hooked. 



  • Camila Dejesus

    Magazine & Media Editor, Camila Dejesus has been writing since she was a child and enjoys all forms from creative writing down to narrative analysis. She graduated from Brooklyn College with a bachelor's in Television and Radio Production and works full-time at Latinitas Magazine. In her free time, she loves writing stories, water coloring, or playing songs on her Baritone Ukulele. Now, her greatest passion is finding new topics that will engage and inspire Latinx youth.

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