Playing second fiddle
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.