Written & Directed by: #GowthamNamasivayam
Arthur Holzenberg, a struggling singer/songwriter is close to obtaining the record deal of his lifetime, but to do so, he has to reproduce an unreleased album of his father Harold Holzenberg, a once successful artist, as his own.
“What sells?” is the question that rattles in the brains of suits at record labels. Fishing through upcoming talent, searching for the next big thing, never really satisfied. Arthur (Matt Magnusson) plays at small venues as he tries to make a name for himself. One night, he plays a particularly catchy song, and one suit in the venue perks his ears up and gives Arthur an offer that will prove hard to refuse. Unfortunately, he quickly learns that the one condition is that he plays his father’s music; a grovelling Harold Holzenborg (David O’Hara) who struggles with liver problems, being incredibly distant from his son.
Nightingale: A Melody of Life takes no time getting into the grittiness of music business as Arthur tackles his new opportunity and Harold fights his demons. Stephen Greenfield (Leonard Kelly-Young) is a sleazy manager who once worked with Arthur’s father, and will cling onto their history through Arthur’s unwilling embodiment of him. Arthur is pressured with Harold’s decreasing health while tight on money to cover the surgery bills, and the increasing weight that Greenfield puts on him brings a downpour of guilt and self-hate. He wants to become more than the “heir of Harold Holzenberg” but his situation has him pinned to the wall.
Although the final act shows a lot of strength in the narrative, the way some of the moments are played off feel a little too on the nose and cheap. But the character growth that Magnusson brings to Arthur is superb and well performed. As the band members support Arthur on his journey, the shadow of Harold overlaps and interferes with their progression; his demons becoming Arthur’s. The cast do a great job, and all the recorded music sounds amazing. Seeing their chemistry build as the film digs into the push and pull that’s frequently present in music production is one of the better aspects of the film.
O’Hara’s smaller role is felt even though he isn’t around for a huge amount of the film; his aura leaking into Magnusson’s portrayal of the Holsenberg son. Narratively speaking, Nightingale: A Melody of Life plays around with the usual themes showing up in music dramas, and this feels somewhat akin to A Star is Born with its alcoholism. It doesn’t try anything new in that regard, but that doesn’t dismiss how well crafted and acted the film is. Nightingale: A Melody of Life pulls back the dusty curtain on music business, and though it’s more of what we’ve seen already, it’s an entertaining and mildly interesting piece.
Watch the trailer for Nightingale: A Melody of Life here: