“(Rhythm) is there in the cycles of the seasons, in the migrations of the birds and animals, in the fruiting and withering of plants, and in the birth, maturation and death of ourselves,” -Mickey Hart (Grateful Dead)
Music is a powerful medium, able to unite us in ways we’ve never even thought imaginable. A few keys from a song can transport us back to long-lost and forgotten memories. These are the two strong arguments laid before us in The Music Never Stopped, a triumphant, emotionally charged, vibrant, poignant and luminous film that ultimately brought me to tears!
DIRECTOR: Jim Kohlberg
CAST: JK Simmons, Lou Taylor Pucci, Cara Seymour, Julia Ormond
AGE RESTRICTION: PG
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
Oliver Sacks, a professor of neurology and psychiatry, has spent much of his career diagnosing and treating a variety of neurological disorders. He is the author of “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”, a collection of case history stories. One of these stories, titled The Last Hippie, is the basis of which most of The Music Never Stopped is based on. It’s an exceptionally beautiful story about the relationship between a father and a son, and between music and the human brain.
Gabriel Sawyer (Lou Taylor Pucci), who grew up during the hippie era of the 60’s, is especially fond of music, mostly due to the heavy influences of his over critical father, Henry (J.K. Simmons), who introduces him to a lot of music from his generation, Count Basie, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, etc. As Gabriel grows up he forsakes his father’s music and grows fonder of the music of his own generation, mostly Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Cream, the Beatles and so forth. Soon he has a longing to become a musician and foregoes his parent’s wishes to attend college.
Fast forward some fifteen years Gabriel is hospitalized for an enormous brain tumor and reconnected with his parents, who haven’t seen him in years. They are forced to take care of him after doctors discover his disability. He is unable to remember and create new memories.
When Henry discovers an experimental treatment that involves the use of music, he assigns a young music therapist (Julia Ormond) to meet with Gabriel. Together the three are able to awaken Gabriel, even if only for brief moments, from his coma.
The cast is exemplary. Veteran actor J.K. Simmons, who most people will know as Jonah Jameson from the Spider-man movies, carries the film and brings out the best in the rest of the cast. Lou Taylor Pucci also does a remarkable job and delivers us a believable Gabriel, who is never depicted as the typical hippie. His knowledge of music and the true meanings behind songs like Dylan’s Desolation Row proves that he is a deep thinker. Likewise, Simmons doesn’t play to the usual critical father clichés. Even at his worst moments Henry is a likeable guy who honestly just misunderstands his son, something which most fathers would probably relate to.
To say that this is a heart warming movie would be an understatement. The Music Never Stopped is incredibly emotional and moving. The sentiments are real. This movie is as funny as it is heart-breaking. Packaged together with a really great soundtrack, good directing, strong characters and a great story, this is a must-see film!
And yes, I did shed a tear or two!