Peter Bradshaw 

Mozart’s Sister – review

This revisionist account of Mozart's early life reclaims one of history's lost women. If only the film weren't so turgid, writes Peter Bradshaw

René Féret's earnest and ponderously acted movie is partly a feminist reclaiming of one of history's lost women, and also a revisionist, speculative account of Mozart's early life that is not so far away from Milos Forman's Amadeus. It has a seriousness that commands attention, and a very believable sense of the hardship and bitterness Mozart Sr put his family through. It is a good subject. If only this film weren't so turgid, and didn't have that strained quality in the sound recording that picks up every extraneous costume-rustle and makes the background silence in every scene seem like a continuous hiss.

Marc Barbé and Delphine Chuillot are Léopold and Anna-Maria Mozart, parents who are putting their children through a gruelling and continuous continental tour. Their remarkable 10-year-old, Wolfgang (David Moreau), plays his own compositions to the crowned heads of Europe.

The person who feels all this most keenly is Mozart's elder sister, the 14-year-old Nannerl, played by the director's daughter Marie Féret. She is reduced to the status of Wolfgang's accompanist, despite being a talented musician and having, she claims, contributed to her brother's compositions. Then a quirk of fate leads to her friendship with the King's younger daughter Louise, played by another Féret daughter, Lisa Féret.

The exchanges between Louise and Nannerl are sometimes laborious, even stilted. Making the casting of these two characters a family affair was probably not the best idea. Their performances have an artless quality and a kind of rough-hewn authenticity that is attractive, however. It's a decently intended film with intelligence, but sadly it never quite comes to life.


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