Play­ing sec­ond fid­dle

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - TIM MARTAIN www. mozartssis­ter. com Now show­ing State Cin­ema

BE­FORE the birth of mu­si­cal prodigy Wolf­gang Amadeus Mozart, his older sis­ter Nan­nerl showed in­cred­i­ble tal­ent of her own.

But when Wolf­gang was born, their fa­ther Leopold turned all his at­ten­tions to his son.

This French film fo­cuses on Nan­nerl’s ( Marie Feret, pic­tured) frus­tra­tion at hav­ing her tal­ents shelved be­cause she was a girl.

The film be­gins with the fam­ily on the road. Leav­ing their na­tive Aus­tria be­hind, Leopold ( Marc Barbe) takes his two gifted chil­dren on tour to present Wolf­gang ( David Moreau) and Nan­nerl to Europe’s high so­ci­ety.

By this stage, Wolf­gang is the star at­trac­tion and Nan­nerl has been rel­e­gated to sec­ond fid­dle ( so to speak). She ac­com­pa­nies on the harp­si­chord and sings while Wolf­gang plays the vi­o­lin.

Nan­nerl has been banned from play­ing the vi­o­lin or com­pos­ing mu­sic, as they are not con­sid­ered fit­ting ac­tiv­i­ties for a fe­male.

But a chance en­counter with French King Louis XV’s daugh­ters leads Nan­nerl to meet the Dauphin ( Clo­vis Fouin), who not only takes a shine to her but en­cour­ages her to keep play­ing and com­pos­ing.

The story – de­scribed as a ‘‘ spec­u­la­tive ac­count’’ – is pri­mar­ily con­cerned with ex­plor­ing the lim­i­ta­tions im­posed on women in Europe dur­ing this pe­riod.

While Feret ably con­veys the de­jec­tion caused by be­ing treated as noth­ing more than breed­ing stock, she doesn’t quite sell the sim­mer­ing re­bel­lion of her char­ac­ter.

She fights against the pres­sure to waste her tal­ent but Feret’s un­der­stated per­for­mance left me see­ing lit­tle real pas­sion.

But the al­most sym­bi­otic dy­namic be­tween Nan­nerl and Wolf­gang shows a po­tent bond be­tween them, show­ing Nan­nerl’s de­vo­tion to her brother – and his idol­i­sa­tion of her – de­spite her frus­tra­tion.

The mu­sic and singing is quite beau­ti­ful but the sto­ry­telling feels a lit­tle flat and, at times, clumsy.

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