The Muse Movie – At what cost for your hearts desire?
Have you ever tasted success only to fall short? Maybe as a salesperson who had a couple months of closing deals and great prospecting? You knew the right words to say. You never stumbled and you were always moving forward. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to lose weight. You've tried every diet, and once, just once, it worked. You got so close to your goal. So close…. Then, you slowly gained it all back. Ever since, you've struggled, trying to replicate what worked before to no avail. Any artists out there? You've had a streak where lines and curves and colors shot through your hands onto the canvas. Vibrant creations almost sprung to life with little effort on your part. Then, it faded away.
What would you do to get it back? What price would you pay? What if a genie rose from the lamp, offering it back for the small price of your sanity? Oh it might be tempting, but most of us would say no. Decisions like that are easy when the cost is high and the consequences are clear.
Now suppose that genie never gave you a choice? Instead, he granted your heart’s desire and slowly extracted payment. Now the option isn’t so clear, is it? Good people do bad things with sufficient reward and when opportunity is presented in very small, incremental steps.
Why the hypothetical? Because that scenario lies at the heart of The Muse. Starring Isaac Simons and directed by Rufus Chafee, The Muse is a psychological thriller where one-hit-wonder Addison Taylor struggles to find his next song, the one to put him on top. He's talented and has flirted with the big time, but he just can't find that next hit. Enter Jimmy, Addison's agent played by Paul Blumenfeld. He sends Addison to a secluded lake-side cabin to get away for a while and concentrate on writing music without the distractions of being Addison Taylor in the city. At the cabin, Addison hits a great streak. Brilliant new music effortlessly flows through him, but at what price and from what origin? Are the new songs coming from Addison's own inspiration and crazed mind or is something more sinister at work? I'm not telling. In fact, even after watching the movie twice, I'm not quite sure.
Did you know the lake house Addison stayed at is on Granite Lake in Keen, NH? The city scenes in the movie were shot in Arlington, MA.
Questions, questions, questions
Not many movies stick with me, forcing me to ponder deep questions, but The Muse did. Even as I write this, I can't help but wonder if the movie tells a ghost story, a story of madness or something else. Audiences don't want everything hand-fed to them, and Rufus does an excellent job of providing just enough to hook us without explaining every last detail. He seems to understand the power of questions in storytelling. Five people might watch this movie and walk away with five different explanations about what happened. That's wonderful storytelling that even some of the masters don't achieve.
Have a little class
The Muse is not the movie I expected. Sometimes indie films come with certain expectations. We all know the terms low-budget, b-movie, exploitation, etc…. While this movie was made on a small budget, none of the other descriptors apply. In The Muse, Rufus created a classy thriller that stayed away from the cheap and easy to provide subtlety and intrigue. If you're looking for blood and gore over great storytelling, this isn't the movie for you. Shock and titillation just aren't tools Rufus employed. Don't get me wrong, I like shock and titillation as much as the next guy, but never at the expense of good storytelling. Even the choice to use a classically-trained pianist as Isaac's Muse shows the type of movie Rufus wanted to make. While she easily could have been a trashy groupie-type character, she was portrayed as a classy, ethereal figure who is above humanity like Liv Tyler's Arwen in The Fellowship of the Ring.
Why it works
I want to make sure I accurately describe The Muse as I don't believe calling it a psychological thriller does the story justice. If I had to choose a genre, that would be it, but the thriller part of the movie isn't what makes it tick. Is there plenty of suspense? Sure. Is protagonist Addison off his rocker? Maybe, but that's not the key. What really makes The Muse enjoyable is the mystery, or what I like to call "the but". The moment Addison Taylor steps on the lakeside property we feel a sense of foreboding. Nothing has happened, but we're already worried for him. He's basically okay, but…. He's gaining success, but…. He found his muse, but…. It's these buts that create a sense of unease throughout the film. We never jump out of our seat, yet we never feel comfortable either.
Go see The Muse
The Muse is an intelligent film with fantastic storytelling created by a passionate director and cast. It will stick with you like few other recent movies.
You can see The Muse at Twistflix.com.