Film Review by Kam Williams
Poignant Character Study Examines Toll Exacted by Alzheimer's
Dr. Alvaro Cruz (Joaquim de Almeida) is a world-renowned neuroscientist specializing in the study of Alzheimer's. But nothing in the research that he's conducted to date could save the life of his mother (Laura Costine) who passed away while he was attending a convention in Paris.
Consequently, Dr. Cruz has been inconsolable since returning home to New Orleans. In fact, his mom's death left him plagued by a recurring dream of her in which he was still a little boy of 6 or 7 years-old. Ultimately, he became so upset that he took a leave of absence in order to indulge the love of music the two had shared.
One day, while passing through the French Quarter, he found himself beguiled by the haunting sound of Una Vida (Aunjanue Ellis), aka "The Queen of Royal Street," a sultry street performer accompanied on steel guitar by a guy known as Stompleg (Bill Cobbs). Besides enjoying their playing, Cruz couldn't help but notice that something just wasn't right with Una.
As an expert in the field, he was able to recognize some of the warning signs of dementia, such as memory loss and walking into traffic. Next thing you know, Alvaro takes a personal interest in Queenie, over the objections of her overprotective daughter (Ruth Negga).
Directed by Richie Adams (Inventing Adam), Of Mind and Music is a poignant character study which sensitively portrays the toll exacted by Alzheimer's not only on a victim, but on her caregivers and loved ones, as well. The film does a terrific job of exploring a variety of concerns, ranging from the patient's forgetfulness to her physician's frustration to her family's denial, all unfolding against the backdrop of a soulful blues score.
Accolades are in order for the A-list cast, topped by Aunjanue Ellis, Joaquim de Almeida and Bill Cobbs, for its adept execution of a fine script co-written by director Adams and Nicolas Bazan. An emotionally-evocative illustration of dignity and despair in the face of fate.
Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for suggested material, drug references and mature themes.
In English and Portuguese with subtitles
Running time: 98 minutes
Distributor: Monterey Media
To see a trailer for Of Mind and Music, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F-eQkLQM6k