Written and directed by Connie Cocchia, When Time Got Louder tells the story of Abbie (Willow Shields), a young woman who is excited to begin the next phase of her life at a prestigious California college. However, in order to do so, Abbie will have to leave her small town home, her parents and, most importantly, her autistic and non-verbal brother, Kayden (Jonathan Simao). Kayden and Abbie have been close since childhood and she provides him with an emotional anchor. As a result, while leaving provides her the opportunity to explore independence and sexuality, it also changes the dynamics of the family unit, tearing her between love for her brother and her new life.
Interestingly, Louder is a film that structures itself as parallel coming-of-age stories. Although Kayden’s transition into adulthood remains the film’s central focus, Abbie’s experiences in college are equally important. Both stories are held up against one another, highlighting the challenges and victories that each sibling faces with equal value. (Although, it is also worth noting that Cocchia separates both worlds through their colour. For example, while California is bathed in bold, warm colours, Kayden’s world back home is left with cooler hues, indicating the dreariness of the area.)
As Kayden learns to take responsibility for his life through (seemingly) small moments like riding on the bus or answering FaceTime calls, Abbie’s admission of her sexuality seems equality brave and bold. Having grown up with a brother of her own with autism, Cocchia writes with a sensitivity and grace that only comes from personal experience. No characters are judged within this film, even though they struggle to understand one another. Within this family’s journey, each character recognizes the power of humility and working together. Others on the outside may not fully comprehend the daily trials of chicken strips or hiding your sexuality but they do first hand. And they know they need each other to hold it together as well.
When Time Got Louder is available at the Canadian Film Fest ’23. For more information, click here.