Thursday, January 18, 2007

COPYING BEETHOVEN

I'm a very tough audience for films about the art of music composition. Most of them grossly simplify both the act of composing music and the artists that create it. I'm famous for being one of the few people who did not like AMADEUS for those reasons. (Although a recent re-viewing of the director's cut raised my opinion... slightly. It's definitely far better than the play.)

One of the few films in the genre that I like is IMMORTAL BELOVED. Okay, it's not the best movie ever made, but it's interesting and well-acted.

So already I'm a tough audience for the film COPYING BEETHOVEN, which covers some similar territory to IMMORTAL BELOVED. COPYING implies that his beloved might have been his copyist, or that at the very least, she was a muse to him late in life. Although the film has some good moments, it's not as great as I'd hoped. Polish director Agnieszka Holland, who gave us EUROPA EUROPA and OLIVIER, OLIVIER (why wasn't this film called "LUDWIG, LUDWIG"?) does a decent job, but the film feels stagy at times and seems to lack development.

I love Ed Harris as an actor, he was phenomenal in POLLACK, but he seems slightly miscast as Ludwig. I never noticed his New York speech patterns until he was playing a European. Of course it's a conceit that Beethoven would be speaking English, and I don't expect a German or Austrian accent, yet it just seems strange. Diane Kruger is not a strong enough actor to stand up to Beethoven's character or Pollack's performance (although the part is not written as strongly as it should have been to be his interest).

There are also some structural weaknesses; there's a point in the second act where we watch an entire movement of a symphony for no real reason. It seems like the movie is wrapping up, yet we still haven't gotten to the third act. And the real end of the movie just seems to stop.

The sound and music were excellent. The period pianos sounded very good. The orchestral performances were a little contemporary, but I'll let that slide as it's more exciting that way.

I'd recommend it for a rental if you're interested in the subject matter.
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