Rare is a romantic comedy that focuses on family and contains many Christian and moral elements. Many modern movies focus on hopping into the sack and tell about lonely women who live with their cats or men who might be homosexual. While including the moonlight and fate talk, the prerequisites of romantic comedies, MUSIC FROM ANOTHER ROOM features unique and quirky characters set in and around the home of a family that cares for one another.
It is Thanksgiving Day, 1972, and Dr. Hank Kowalski and his 5-year-old son Danny are having dinner at the Swan house. A very pregnant Grace Swan (Brenda Blethyn) entertains a lively group of friends and family. Shy Danny sits alone in the den, until his father and Richard Swan (Bruce Jarshow) burst into the room with Grace who is going into labor. Dr. Hank Kowalski determines that the umbilical cord is wrapped around the neck of the baby and asks Danny to reach inside Grace’s womb and untangle the cord (which he does off screen, thankfully). A baby girl named Anna is delivered. Danny boldly declares that one day he will marry this girl. Danny and his father move to London, and the movie picks up twenty-five years later.
Danny (Jude Law) returns to his hometown, where a girlfriend and a job restoring mosaics awaits. When the girl dumps him and the job falls through, he is reduced to renting a room over a bakery owned by a very charming elderly couple. Danny swears off love forever, until a cake delivery leads him to the house where he spent Thanksgiving. He sees Anna (Gretchen Mol) all grown up and looking lovely, and feels the irresistible hand of fate.
Grace lavishly welcomes Danny and reminds her whole family of the deed he performed years ago. Anna, however, is engaged to wealthy, stable Eric (Jon Tenny) and ranks duty far above passion. Grace believes that Anna belongs with Danny. Complicating matters is the rest of the eccentric Swan family. Blind, sheltered Nina (Jennifer Tilly) hires Danny to read Tolstoy’s ANNA KARENINA to her. Cynical Karen (Martha Plimpton) casts him as a sacrificial pig in a feminist play, but Danny doesn’t mind. He knows he is good to women. Big brother Billy (Jeremy Piven) wants Danny to stay away from the Swan women, especially his unstable wife Irene (Jane Adams), who frequently pulls out an unloaded gun and points it.
Danny transcends these family struggles by treating everyone the same. He doesn’t mollycoddle Nina because she is blind. He ignores Karen’s griping and befriends her. Finally, Anna’s defenses break down too in the face of Danny’s constant concern, care and attention. After she determines not to marry Danny, she sees a mosaic project he created at a museum and reconsiders.
The title, MUSIC FROM ANOTHER ROOM, comes from a moment at a family dinner where Danny describes love. He says it is like music from another room where you sing along. Then, some loud noise drowns it out momentarily, but you keep singing. Finally, when you hear it again, you are in perfect synchronization with the words.
This movie suffers from the same trappings of many romantic comedies: it asserts that the love between a man and a woman is the ultimate goal in life and a product of an undefined and superstitious fate. Danny is so sure of his inevitable love for Anna that he flips a coin with two heads to help her realize that their love is sure. In reality, he was cheating; he didn’t let the imaginary device of fate decide. Finally, this movie has some implied fornication between Anna and her boyfriend, and ultimately between Anna and Danny. The fornication is used to demonstrate true love, but of course the players involved are not married.
MUSIC FROM ANOTHER ROOM differs from many romantic comedies because it does demonstrate some grace and love. The Swan family loves each other despite their differences. The marriage is intact and preserved, and Mrs. Swan blesses her husband. Blind Nina meets a Hispanic man named Jesus who treats her well and gives her a bicycle, thus choosing to celebrate what she can do and refusing to treat her as an invalid. At one point, Jesus identifies with Nina by placing a blindfold on his own eyes saying he wants to experience her world. Likewise, despite some initial negative reactions toward Danny from Anna and her brother, Danny responds with patience and practical love.
MUSIC FROM ANOTHER ROOM is not a big budget movie and will not receive a big marketing push. It is not a life-changing and noble movie, and in fact blows a little smoke about destiny, fate and romance. However, it does have decent lead characters who treat each other with respect and react positively with patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. The essence of romantic comedy defines the highest love as that between a man and a woman rather than God whose essence is love.
(Ro, B, C, L, V, S, A, D) Romantic worldview with moral elements of preserving family & Christian allegorical & symbolic elements & marred by condoning sexual immorality and a belief in fate; 4 obscenities & 3 profanities; mild violence including threats with gun, woman shoots man in the foot, man runs into car with bike, & man threatens man with broken bottle; implied fornication & some sexual innuendo; no nudity; alcohol use; and, miscellaneous immorality including arguing, deception & some feminist elements.