Merging pop and opera, blind Italian singing phenomenon Andrea Bocelli has become one of the biggest global entertainers. The new authorized biopic “The Music of Silence,” however, is a range-constricted slog through the dreariest of showbiz-ascension clichés.
Inexplicably, the story is presented — with Bocelli appearing in bracketing scenes — as an alter ego saga about a sight-afflicted Tuscan boy named Amos (played as an adult by Toby Sebastian) who turns a childhood of loneliness and singing promise into a dead-end gig at a piano bar, until rigorous tutelage under an unnamed maestro (Antonio Banderas) triggers a shot at the big time.
And yet there’s never a sense from the hackneyed screenplay by director Michael Radford and Anna Pavignano what music, opera, art, great composers, performing, anything, means to Amos/Andrea as a life force, a reason for existing. The score has all the heft of Muzak, or it serves as a succession of opera signifiers: “O Sole Mio” is a competition tune; “Ave Maria” is sung at a wedding; and “Nessun Dorma,” sung in front of millions, signifies achieved fame.
Far from suggesting a hardship overcome to fulfill a passion, the movie has the privileged air of annoyingly delayed stardom, born out by Sebastian’s generally mopey petulance, and characters — Italian actors reciting embarrassing dialogue in English — primarily there to coddle our hero. When Banderas shows up, easily exuding authority and personality, it’s practically a relief. Otherwise, the pedestrian filmmaking and community-theater pacing mostly recalls PBS pledge drives hawking Bocelli records.
‘The Music of Silence’
Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills