Of Mind and Music (PG-13)

Drama 97 min. February 12, 2016
By Ernest Hardy
There's a soothing quality to Of Mind and Music — its crisp editing, measured pace and tender score — that acts as a palliative coating for its layered and intersecting, emotion-driven stories. Director Richie Adams, working from a screenplay he co-wrote with Nicolas Bazan, juggles Alzheimer's disease, drug addiction, legacies of familial emotional trauma and the dynamics of improvised family. Alvaro Cruz (Joaquim De Almeida), a neuroscientist grieving his mother's death from Alzheimer's, takes solace in the bustling New Orleans neighborhood and home he shares with his wife, Angela (Sharon Lawrence). A chance encounter with singer Una Vida (Aunjanue Ellis) and her accompanist, Stomp Leg (Bill Cobbs), as the elderly duo busks on a street corner evolves into a friendship.

After Cruz recognizes the symptoms of Alzheimer's in Una Vida, he also notes how her music runs interference against the illness's erosive effects — a fortuitous observation that neatly dovetails with his professional interests. Crisscrossing subplots threaten to get unwieldy (both Cruz's and Una Vida's storylines come complete with numerous flashbacks) as Una Vida's past unfolds, sketching in the pain behind her lucid moments. The whole thing is held together by performances that are superb across the board, Adams' assured direction and delicate, beautiful work by both director of photography Tom Lembcke and composer Carlos José Alvarez.
Richie Adams Joaquim de Almeida, Aunjanue Ellis, Sharon Lawrence, Ruth Negga, Bill Cobbs, Andre Royo, Marcus Lyle Brown, Ashton Leigh, Stefan Solea Richie Adams Monterey Media Inc.

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