Stocking only vinyl in his London music shop, Frank Adair has the ability to select the perfect song to ease each customer’s spiritual crisis.
The son of a music-obsessed mother, Frank grew up learning about Beethoven’s silences, Vivaldi’s funeral, Bach’s eyes, and Miles Davis’ sly sense of humor. By the time he was a teen, he was teaching his mother, Peg, about João Gilberto, Joni Mitchell, and Van Morrison. After Peg’s death, Frank opens his store in a small cluster of shops. Defying land developers and CD–pushing record reps, Frank eschews alphabetical and genre-based organizational systems in favor of delightfully placing Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” ABC’s “The Lexicon of Love,” and Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” in the same bin—after all, each is a concept album. He’s a musical therapist, dosing heartache with Aretha Franklin and fussy babies with the Troggs. With his exuberant assistant manager, Kit, and fellow shopkeepers—including Maud, the tattoo artist; Mr. Novak, the baker; the Williams brothers, funeral directors; and Father Anthon, who has left the church to run a religious souvenir shop—Frank is part of a cozy, quirky community, well-insulated from the risks of falling in love…until Ilse Brauchmann faints in front of his store. Immediately smitten with each other, Ilse and Frank realize they are star-crossed when Ilse admits not only that she has a fiancé, but also—even worse—she doesn't listen to music. Yet she asks Frank to describe music to her; thus begins a journey into the emotional terrain charted by “The Moonlight Sonata,” “Ain’t it Funky Now, Parts 1 and 2,” and even “God Save the Queen,” the Sex Pistols’ version. Joyce (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, 2016, etc.) sets up a charming cast of characters, and her spirals into the sonic landscapes of brilliant musicians are delightful, casting a vivid backdrop for the quietly desperate romance between Frank and Ilse.
From nocturnes to punk, this musical romance is ripe for filming.