A surprising, uplifting and very touching film, particularly recommended to everyone that has music as one of the main pillars of their life. "The Music Never Stopped" mixes a familiar drama with the power of the songs that will be with us forever, and the memories, the moments, associated with them. Music lovers, this one is for you.
The film, based on the case study "The Last Hippie" by Dr. Oliver Sacks (will look for it), brings to table an experimental treatment through music for a young man, Gabriel affected by a tumour that has damaged his brain, incapable of forming new memories. With the extremely interesting "excuse" of the therapy, director Jim Kohlberg builds an absorbing familiar story, real argument of the film.
As a son that owes a lot of his passion for music to his father, and someone who grew looking hypnotized records sleeves and struck by the power of many tunes he had in his collection, and by the stories behind them, "The Music Never Stopped", really got me. This film is a tale in which Henry, played extraordinarily by J.K. Simmons, tries to reconnect with his son, a broken relationship in a double dimension: due to his illness, but previously because their differences once he grew up. The opportunity for Henry appears through the songs his son adored, a bunch of classic bands like The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan or The Beatles. The records and bands Henry blamed because, in his opinion, stole his son from him, might be their last chance to communicate with Gabriel, played with subtlety and conviction by Lou Taylor Pucci, without affectations or mannerisms.
I don't want to criticise a film that reached an intimate part of me, but I do have to mention a couple of things to make a fair review. First, there are some brutal ellipsis within its length, transitions are quite rough from scene to scene. Yes, it does make the film quite dynamic and with rhythm being a drama, but the lack of explanations, at times, damages its verisimilitude. And second, an this personally hurts, it can escape from looking/smelling a bit like a TV movie a couple of times (in particular the ones with Julia Ormond, who plays the role of Dianne Daley, Gabriel's therapist, or some of the flashbacks scenes).
But to hell with that. The truth is that I loved the film, I adored how well reflected is the music obsession father and son share, and how they can discuss about song meanings, how they test each other and learn from each other. The whole idea of connecting again, understand each other through music exudes passion and honesty, and brought me back to very special music-related memories: the magic emotion of being with my father at my first concert (Neil Finn, seems ages ago) or the moment I found he had bought R.E.M.'s "Out of Time", one of the favourite records of his son then. Oh, I'm getting emotional again. Thanks for that "The Music Never Stopped". Thanks music.