Listen (2013) – By Duane L. Martin

David (Zac Pullam / Joshua Mikel) has been obsessed with sound and music ever since he was a kid. He’s also been in love with a girl named Abby (Avery Kristen Pohl / Emily Pearse) since he was a kid, but after getting embarrassed when he tried to play her a composition he wrote for her and having her tell him she never wanted to see him again, he ran home, where his grandfather tried to give him advice about girls, but he didn’t want to hear it.

Jump ahead twelve years. David and his roommate Mark (Sergio Soltero) are both post graduate students, David has never been able to relate to people all that well, and he’s still obsessed with Abby, who only seems to date jerks for whatever reason. He’s also obsessed with sound and has invented a device that records the core fundamentals of sound, which he’s been trying to get a grant for so he can develop it further.

David’s constant sound recording takes a strange turn one night when he’s in a convenience store and two robbers come in. Like an idiot, he scoots over behind them so he can record the whole thing with his device, and they end up breaking it. He runs home completely distraught and tries to repair it, only to find that it now records differently than it did before. When he points it at people, it records their individual sound frequencies (music) that they give off. His friend Mark, who’s an engineering student, helps him to redefine the device so it filters out everything but those frequencies, and David soon makes an interesting discovery. Women, or just people in general, are attracted to others that their music falls into sync with. David attempts to steal Abby away from her boyfriend Scott by recording his frequencies and then carrying a small playback device in his pocket that allows him to "wear" those frequencies like a cologne. It works…at least on a fundamental level, but David quickly learns that there’s a whole lot more that goes into building a relationship with someone.

When a professor at the college takes an interest in David’s device, he and Mark soon find themselves harassed by a man from a large corporation and his henchmen who want the device for themselves, and the professor is helping them because he’ll get a 5% cut of everything they make from it as a finder’s fee. Now David and Mark are faced with a dilemma. Sell the device and get rich, or keep it to themselves and avoid its possible misuse for nefarious purposes.

Ok, that’s enough description. The story is relatively simple actually, but unfortunately describing it isn’t.

This film has three big things going for it. First, from a technical standpoint, it looks amazing. The film making talent here with regard to the technical aspects of the film are far above par. Everything from the cinematography to the lighting to the sound to the editing are all excellent and make you feel like you’re watching a film from someone who’s a practiced film maker who really cares about their craft. As polished as it all looks, it still doesn’t lose that cool, indie kind of a feel, which is great.

The second thing it’s got going for it is an original story. There’s not really anything derivative here. Not only is it an interesting concept, but the characters are interesting and between the two, it makes you want to keep watching to see how it all plays out.

The third big thing it’s got going for it is an absolutely amazing cast that’s really full of stand out talent. Zac Pullam, who played David as a child is an amazing young actor whose talent is far beyond what you’d expect to see from someone his age. Joshua Mikel who plays the adult David is the perfect combination of quirk, awkwardness and likeability to make the character feel real and believable. Sergio Soltero as his roommate Mark starts off the film by giving you the impression he’s kind of a douche bag, but only because he’s trying to get David to see some semblance of reality with regard to his life and his invention. Over the course of the film however, we find out that he’s actually a pretty amazing friend. As with Joshua, Sergio is extremely likeable and the two have this sort of an "Odd Couple" like relationship that makes you want to watch them.

As great as those performances are however, I have to say that my favorite character in the entire film was the convenience store clerk, played by Chris Martin. He was just a side character and was only in one tiny part of the film, but he was hilarious and definitely deserved a mention here.

The story does have some problems and will force you to suspend your disbelief in various parts. For example, there’s a part where David is being chased by one of the corporate henchmen. He makes it to his car and hooks up his device to the car stereo. It blasts out a sound that causes them both to cover their ears in pain. It actually causes the henchman to pass out, yet David, who’s sitting in the car when he triggers it, doesn’t pass out and then just drives away none the worse for wear. There are a few things like that in the film, but all in all it’s a pretty solid and entertaining story. It does feel a bit slow at times, but it never drags to a point where it starts to become annoying. I did feel that the part about him trying to get the grant to develop his device probably could have been left out to tighten things up a bit, but that was just a small part of the film, so it wouldn’t have made a huge difference regardless.

In the end, this is a film that’s actually a breath of fresh air in a world full of unoriginal ideas, and despite a few minor issues, is one that I can wholeheartedly recommend checking out. Not just for the story, but for the talented cast and the quality film making as well from writer / director F.C. Rabbath. This is definitely a film that’s worth your time, so make sure you see it if you get a chance.

You can keep up with director F.C. Rabbath on Facebook here:

If you’d like to pick up a DVD copy for yourself, you can get it here.