Mozart's Sister: movie review

( Unrated ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

'Mozart's Sister' spins a tale about Mozart's talented older sibling that is ingenious and plodding at the same time.

Who knows how many more great female artists there might have been if societies of previous centuries had been more accepting of their artistry? “Mozart’s Sister” focuses on 15-year-old Maria Anna “Nannerl” Mozart (Marie Féret), Wolfgang’s older sister, who, like her prodigious brother, was taken around by their father Léopold (Marc Barbé) to perform before the royal courts of Europe. A gifted violinist and pianist, Nannerl, who outlived Wolfgang (David Moreau) by almost 40 years, may also have composed music, though none survives.

From this raw material, writer-director René Féret has fashioned a fiction imagining a friendship between Nannerl and the daughter (Lisa Féret) and the dauphin (Clovis Fouin) of Louis XV. Nannerl, who initially disguises herself as a boy, mesmerizes the dauphin, who induces her to compose chamber music for him – which she does seemingly on the spot, despite lacking formal compositional skills. Since Leopold forbade Nannerl to compose music or play the violin – “not an instrument for a girl” – her foray into the handsome dauphin’s good graces is liberating for her on many levels.

As speculative storytelling goes, “Mozart’s Sister” is ingenious but as moviemaking it’s plodding. The period recreations (some of the film was shot in Versailles) are far more expressive than the acting, especially Marie Féret’s. (She’s the director’s daughter, as is Lisa Féret.) Little Wolfgang doesn’t have much to do in the film except act rascally in between bouts of virtuouso violin playing. With his wild shock of hair and leery grimace, he looks like he might grow into Mick Jagger. Grade: C (Unrated.)

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