- Andrew Lee
The Ultimate Playlist of Noise (2021)
If you were to lose one of your senses, which would it be: sight, touch, taste, smell, or hearing?
The Ultimate Playlist of Noise (2021) follows average teenager Marcus Lund (Keean Johnson), whose fascination and enthusiasm for audio has named him the resident “playlist doctor” of his high school. One night, Marcus has a sudden seizure at a concert which leads to the discovery of tumors in his brain. Although the tumors are most likely benign, Marcus is woefully confronted to go through brain surgery that’ll render him deaf permanently. As such, the premise of the film begins with Marcus on a journey to record and compile all of his favorite sounds, especially the voice of his late brother Alex (Gordon Winarick), into what is known as “the ultimate playlist of noise” before his surgery. Marcus spontaneously embarks on a road trip to New York City along with musician Wendy (Madeline Brewer), who helps to record sounds for his playlist while she attempts to fulfill her dream of becoming an established musician. They develop a strong bond throughout the journey and act as a support system for each other beyond their interpersonal struggles. Unbeknownst to Marcus, the journey of what was to be filled with beautiful sounds and memories would instead be met with harsh realities of the past. Among them, the painful truth behind his brother’s death.
Similar to other various YA films like The Fault in Our Stars, The Ultimate Playlist of Noise follows the typical trope of the main character being hit with a drastic, life-changing event and trying to make best of the inevitable situation. It falls within the tangent of the main character facing moments of ups-and-downs in what can be best described as cringe worthy narration. In addition, avid film watchers have noted the untimely release of The Ultimate Playlist of Noise two months after Sound of Metal: a film with a similar plot, where a heavy-metal drummer is struck with hearing-loss and left devastated, for he must leave his band to prevent deterioration of his hearing. Many viewers have compared the two films and have widely acclaimed the latter film in a more positive light than the former. However, The Ultimate Playlist of Noise is a rather appraisable film that commits to the conventional coming-of-age teen story with splashes of romantic and dramatic moments. From difficult conversations about life between Marcus and Wendy to the heavy discussions Marcus has with his mother Alyssa (Rya Kihlstedt) about mental illness and death regarding Alex, these scenes establish the basis of raw, personal scenes embodied in the themes discussed – loss, deafness, and mental illness.
All in all, The Ultimate Playlist of Noise provides a unique, interesting story with bits of shortcomings in terms of the roles of supporting characters and hitting the thought-provoking points. The mixing of sound and cinematography was gracefully executed as this film is a comforting and delightful watch. Though various common tropes were widely present, the splendid performance of the cast and the heartfelt ending strongly resonated with the film’s overall message – “I see that life without sound is still beautiful. It’s just a different kind of beautiful.”
[4 out of 5]
If you’re interested to learn about the behind-the-scenes on this film, feel free to check out the podcast “The Ultimate Playlist of Noise” on Spotify. Link provided below: