Earlier this year, the film “It’s All Gone Pete Tong” offered a mockumentary comedy about a deaf DJ. The documentary “Touch the Sound” takes the notion of a deaf musical genius serious: in this case, Scottish classical percussionist Evelyn Glennie, who is both 80 percent and a Grammy Award winner.
“Touch the Sound” comes from filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer, who gave the world “Rivers and Tides.” It is not likely that the new film will generate the acclaim which the previous film did. Riedelsheimer seems to be doing everything he can to keep his subject away from the audience. At least 20 minutes pass before Glennie is allowed to speak at length about her experiences and her approach to music. Instead, too much footage is wasted in artsy passages designed to give a different sonic approach to the world around us. Thus, the audience is subjected to scenes and amplified sounds of people walking, wheeled suitcases whirring across an airport floor, ambulance sirens wailing, droplets of water falling, etc. Rather than work as a documentary of a gifted artist, the film veers into a bad parody of Jacques Tati.
Glennie is a beautiful and charming woman, and the sequences where she is able to get a word in are priceless. Her indefatigable spirit, in both her own pursuits and in helping young deaf musicians find their craft, are truly inspiring. And her music, needless to say, is extraordinary for its imagination and vibrancy.
Glennie’s art and life would make for a memorable movie. Sadly, “Touch the Sound” doesn’t touch Glennie’s greatness.