Mixed by Erry feels like a musical piece, and rightly so, considering its subject matter has music at its center. Not wasting a single moment right from the first frame, it takes us back into the remarkable lives of three brothers who made millions by selling duplicated music cassettes in Naples, Italy, in the 80s. Its filmmaking is a prime example of a well-written script, and it is coming together through a pulsating edit. Each scene has an underlying rhythm along with a stark beginning, middle, and end, which give a feeling of little bags of songs put together. When a film starts to resonate like a piece of music, it edges on to become a feeling and gives out an experience. This harmony among the arts is impeccable, and when we look at them closely, there is a synchronous interconnection that exists between, say, a painting and a poem when at times, a poem feels like a painting, or a painting seems poetic. Cinema being a culmination of all the arts, has the qualities of them all and works with a certain sense of rhythm. It is that coherent mingling of emotions along with the formal aspects that provide a satisfying experience altogether, and Mixed by Erry works exactly like that.
The narrative focuses primarily on one of the three brothers, Enrico, who has dreamed of becoming a DJ ever since he was a kid. Always spending his time in a music shop, doing the cleaning, Enrico is obsessed with music and has a talent for mixing it into cassettes. When the owner of the shop decides to take an early retirement, Enrico’s dreams are put to a stop as he finds himself lost and confused. Eventually, along with his two brothers, he starts his own shop selling cassettes of music. Soon enough, the three become household names and build a fortune for themselves. The progression of this story is so seamless that there are no dull moments, and the events seem to be evenly distributed throughout its duration. Sydney Sibilia gives the film a comedic treatment, with the humor coming out through careful interactions between the characters that never seems forced. There are delightful moments created by letting the characters in power of a situation, acting according to the traits assigned to them so that they remain within the boundary and thus induce humor through that continued pattern of their behavior. The adventures of the brothers as they figure out ways to keep doing what they do and the places it leads them to is a journey of sheer wonder and awe.
Along with that, Mixed by Erry is filled with nostalgia for the lost time as it is based on such an important time in the age of music with the prominence of cassettes and the advent of CDs thereafter. The aesthetics also constantly point towards this, with the costume design and production elements coming together to bring out a rich look and feel of that era in Italy. While the current runtime is perfect in the way it manages to build the story, the film would have also worked if it were to dive into more details of the character’s personal lives and how they affect the choices they make. It is always implied that the two brothers, Peppe and Enrico, are married, and that Angelo is a womanizer. There is also a thread about how Angelo was sent to the juvenile rehab center for almost killing a kid who was bullying his brother. Even with the brilliant pacing, there are some thoughts about the details of these stories that linger in your head, waiting to be answered.
Mixed by Erry would have worked as an epic with a longer duration where we get to see the boys’ relationship with their mother and how their father feels about what they do. In an earlier sequence, when they were all kids, their father told them to always be honest. This moral principle, while not followed by the father himself as he sells tea by passing it off as whiskey to people in the market, is never looked at again in the film. It feels like an open thread that doesn’t lead anywhere. Then, along with that, the dynamics between Enrico and his wife have so much more room for exploration. However, that would be a completely different film, and Sibilia chooses not to delve into much detail about their personal lives, as what is important to him is the extravagant significance of their public lives. His thematic allusions lead to underlining the advent of piracy and how the brothers literally shocked the living hell out of everyone by making the money they did by pirating cassettes.
The performances of the actors bring out the anxiety, excitement, and aspirations of being young. Giuseppe Arena strikes a chord with his vibrant performance as the elder brother, who is low on intellect but always high on energy. He is shadowed by a restrained Enrico, played by Luigi D’Oriano. It is a pleasure to watch him lead the way and become the mind behind so much money and sensation. Even Emanuele Palumbo shines in his role as the younger brother, who carries a hint of menace inside. Together, the three bring out the brotherhood of the characters with unparalleled chemistry, as seen on screen.
Mixed by Erry is a film that is going to get featured on all the upcoming lists of ‘feel good,’ ‘happy’ films. Even though there is nothing not-seen-before in the film, it still manages to spill its magic over you. In telling a story of piracy through an imaginative bunch of characters and their relationships, it spreads its charm along the way through its filmmaking. Right from the first scene to the post-credits scene, it is a laugh riot all along.