UNSOUND is a charming tale of kindling love and self-determination starring emerging talent Yiana Pandelis and Game of Thrones’ Reece Noi alongside Australian icons Christine Anu, Todd McKenney, and Paula Duncan.
Finn (Pandelis), a trans man DJing a club for the deaf community on the northern beaches of Sydney, struggles to express himself, hindered by his overprotective father (McKenney). On the other side of the world, Noah (Noi), a flighty gigging guitarist, quits a UK tour, leaving his friend (Anu) high and dry to return to his tumultuous relationship with his mother (Duncan) in Australia. Noah gatecrashes Finn’s club, leading the two to find much needed companionship as they navigate the next steps of their identity and independence.
UNSOUND covers a lot of ground in its condensed running time, and a great deal of kudos goes to Pandelis for carrying much of the emotional journey, whilst also representing the early realities of transitioning. This element alone makes UNSOUND a valuable film to generate broader, deeper understanding about the intensity of this process, even in a supportive environment which too few trans people have available to them. Noi does wonderful work in a sincere portrayal of going back and forth between romantic hero and antagonist. McKenney, Anu and Duncan are welcome appearances, heightening the polish and gravitas, allowing the two leads to rapidly drive the story forward. At the height of its drama, I felt a visceral response of pain, revulsion and compassion, and the story’s honest conclusion generated a true longing.
Kent Marcus’ cinematography is fairly linear, with a dynamic editing style by Scott Walmsley. I found myself really appreciating Rachel Giuffre’s choices for costume, setting the seasons and the comfort with the self as the film progressed, particularly for Finn’s character. The music in the film by Mark D’Angelo moves excellently between primary narrative element and background ambiance, taking the form of a score as opposed to a soundtrack, which does a great deal for weaving the film together. Grateful kudos must also go to James Blyth, Susan Emerson, Dion Galea and Rosemary Profilio who provided Auslan support on the film, and also Sam Matthews, the film’s Trans Consultant.
I strongly urge anyone seeking reviews of this film to find commentary made by trans and gender diverse community, and deaf and hearing-impaired community, to confirm how this story empowers their experience of life and relationships. While there appeared to be some narrative inconsistencies, and not much space in the running time to deep-dive, UNSOUND is absolutely worth consideration in the growth of cinema like it that tackles complicated stories, that examines lives we don’t see enough of on screen or stage. That shows flaws, mistakes, rushes of judgement, and consequences, and the levels of trust required to overcome those.
UNSOUND is a must-see at Melbourne Queer Film Festival, even if only for the sake of encouraging filmmakers to keep telling stories like these, with ever better representation, brave imperfection, authentic heart and willing vulnerability.
For more information on the festival, this film and the festival programme, visit: https://mqff.com.au