I can count the films I’ve seen with an inspirational quote from Mike Watt of The Minutemen as their opening title card on one hand. So that’s nice. In The New Music, the four fresh faces playing the flatmates all seem to have their characters based on their appearance at first, the naturalistic handheld style screams indie cinema while set-dressing and wardrobe spell out the difference between the three, pizza-noshing-punks and their apparently amusical new housemate.
What is it about punk rock that makes ugly architecture look cool? That ‘thing’ (whatever it is) is shot throughout The New Music. This low-budget indie makes the most of its host city Dublin but it’s mostly alleyways, dive bars and corrugated hoardings, the edges of the fringes…
In an opening act that feels like it could either go Shallow Grave or Brothers Of The Head, we see the flatmates band The Cellmates get into it with some Fucked Up-style indie. All the while Adrian (Cilléin McEvoy), the once piano prodigy and punkhouse new bloke, suffers the trauma and mental torture of both having Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease and the task of keeping it to himself.
When there’s no live music being played or headphones on the protagonist, there’s no score at all for much of the film. The silence between the lines of dialogue does stunt the atmosphere in the domestic scenes. See, Adrian has run away to spare his family (well his mum) his impeding decrepitude, and maybe to fit in something wild while he still can.
By the time the film gets into the second act, with its bonding drinking sessions and punk rock awakening, I felt pretty forgiving to the wooden delivery and slow editing. Seeing Temple Bar’s live scene as a place to soothe your pain and heal what ails thee makes sense in a montage.
As Adrian and The Cellmates intertwine their lives I started rooting for the filmmaker but too many scenes feel perfunctory for me to fully delve into. Still, I was pulling for Chiara Viale’s flick. “Come on little indie film, you can do it!”. A beat here, a flashback there, let’s see if we can get some payoff and closure before the end of this little ditty.
There’s quite a bit wrong with The New Music and yet it’s hard to go against it. There’s a solid idea, the core of a decent script, even some talent on screen. However, it’s kind of like watching a local band have a crack at a masterpiece. Like Hotel California at the Dog & Duck. It absolutely has heart but I have to admire not only the attempt, but also the daylight between the aspiration and what you’re getting.
Here’s to punks DIYing in more art forms than one. OneTwoThreeFour!