Review by Camden Ferrell
Don Giovanni is one of the most famous operas ever written, and up until recently, the principal role has never been professionally performed by a transgender woman. This is where the story of James Kicklighter’s new documentary, The Sound of Identity, begins. Even though it’s an interesting subject, the movie doesn’t give adequate exploration to the themes and implications of its story.
Lucia Lucas is a renowned opera singer, and she is at a turning point in her career as she prepares to play the lead in Don Giovanni. Through her own testimony, we learn about the process of playing this character and learn insight into her transition and career. She’s an interesting subject that had a lot of promise for a compelling documentary.
From the start, the film seems to lack personality. It superficially captures the events depicted, and there isn’t much style in the way its filmed. This leads to many key scenes feeling dull and uninspired despite how interesting the subject is.
Lucas is very interesting, and she imparts some really great insight into her transition and her life. These moments with Lucas are where the film succeeds the most. She has a plethora of interesting experiences that serve as a good foundation for the film, but it unfortunately irresponsibly squanders this potential.
In addition to the historic occasion, the film does explore the state of the opera world and the significance of Don Giovanni. It’s interesting, but it distracts a lot from Lucas’ story that should have taken precedent. Regardless, it does also highlight some of the beauty found in the opera and its importance to the art world.
Watching the collaboration between Lucas and her mentor, Tobias Picker, is quite enjoyable and sweet. There’s a fair amount of screen time for this, but it’s an aspect that I wish was more developed as it was rather interesting.
Despite the film’s flaws, it’s an inspiring story of a fantastic opera singer. Lucas has a beautiful voice, and she breaks boundaries in the opera world with charm and grace. Her magnificent story is muddled in this documentary, and it isn’t given the exploration it warrants, but it’s still enjoyable throughout.
The Sound of Identity can suffer from a bland and safe execution, but it benefits from its captivating subject and historical significance. There are some touching moments and interesting testimonials, but it ultimately lacks a cinematic personality to match the personality of its subject.
The Sound of Identity is available on VOD June 1.