Directed by Jimmy Nickerson and written by Jared Corwin, a silent observer must take a stand when a drug peddling bully threatens his budding relationship. Starring: Paul Louis Smith, Kristina Veroslavova, Darryl Ester and Hunter Spangler.
If you boiled down Audio’s story to its foundation, surprisingly what you find is a tale pulled straight out of a 1950s romantic drama. Boy falls for girl, girl’s caught up with a bad guy and our hero’s left with the choice of saving her from that life or letting her go. It’s an interesting mix to have a fairly traditional story told in a modern style, almost feeling similar to how films place Romeo and Juliet in today’s world. It throws in the unique edge of having a protagonist who’s mute, leading him to express himself in other ways and connect with people differently. It’s a nice twist but at the same time it has to fight against the predictability which comes with such a traditional story and it’s not a battle that it wins most of the time.
There’s a bouncy, quirky energy to the way that it moves with its love of dance and music. However, it can skirt into a camp arena at points, it takes a very experienced hand to pull off impromptu choreographed dancing and it doesn’t feel natural here. The atmosphere that it builds certainly feels aimed towards a younger audience, potentially working better for teens. There are a few unusual touches to try and separate itself from others but it’s not enough to build up an individual charm or personality. The framing of the shots isn’t always ideal, it does improve as the film moves along but there isn’t a lot that stands out about the direction or cinematography. Partially because it’s not backed up by taking the time to build its characters, to give them specific personas to help you invest in them or create a more genuine air of friendship and romance.
Our leading trio Paul Louis Smith, Kristina Veroslavova and Darryl Ester work well together, it’s almost reminiscent of the friendships in Me, Earl and the Dying Girl. Each of them bring different forms of bubbly, outgoing and youthful energies but at the same time, there’s little else to them. We don’t get a sense of their lives outside this little window of time and it’s not enough to draw you deeply into their characters. Hunter Spangler on the other hand hits a lot of stereotypical and cliched notes of toxic-masculinity, seeing women as property rather than actually being interested and classic, simple bullying. It also feels like for the story being told, the runtime is too lengthy, the editing is extremely lenient, letting scenes run on longer than needed. It slows things down quite a lot and fights against the colourful energy it builds, missing out on a suspense or tension by taking too long to reach the crux of its plot.
Audio taps into an extremely classic vein of cinema, teen romance mingled with crime. Unfortunately, despite trying to build a unique, energetic atmosphere, it quickly becomes predictable and stereotypical. It uses a lot of theatricality which makes it struggle to build a bigger connection or sincerity. There’s also a lack of detail to its characters, while the cast give good performances, it’s not quite enough to flesh them out and bring a larger emotion.