Musicals are challenging to pull off. Merely writing music and lyrics can drive one mad, but attention has to be paid to story, filming, recording, and acting. Jack Danini accepts the challenge of the indie musical in his opus, Ode to Passion. I should state right up front that all of the dialogue is expressed in verse. It’s all spoken in the same meter and rhymes alternate in a standard A-B-A-B structure.
Michael (Giuseppe Bausilio) is a New York writer, who finds true love in Sarah (Julia Nightingale) standing across the room at a party. Michael is immediately smitten with Sarah, and as the two go for a walk, he can’t help but describe her beauty and his feelings toward her. Sarah is equally smitten with him and warns him that she has had a hard life and done things she’s not proud of.
“…a New York writer, who finds true love…standing across the room at a party.”
In the B-story is Michael’s best friend, John (Jeff Smith), a brilliant writer looking for a university fellowship, while teaching high school in the meantime. Alexa (Victoria Meade) is Sarah’s best friend, who has a lust for life and cocaine. There’s also Michael’s other friend Richy (Marcus Harmon), and the film’s moral center Father Conor (Al Pagaono).
The driving conflict comes between Michael’s naïve belief in “true love” set against a very flawed Sarah and her past. Sarah wants nothing more than a stable life with the man she loves, but her past addictions come back to haunt her. Sarah grew up in darkness, while Michael views life and love with rose-colored glasses.
Now comes the part where I give the bad news. I honestly wanted to like Ode to Passion. I love a good musical, as much as anyone, who doesn’t live in New York, can. First, there is a great deal to admire for writer, director, composer Jack Danini. As stated from the start, musicals are tricky and time-consuming. Ode to Passion is a beautifully shot and professionally produced movie. He takes no short cuts in the final product with no sense of cutting corners to get things done.
"…has the makings of becoming a great director…"