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Nannerl, Mozart's Sister

Quickcard Review - 46th Chicago International Film Festival CLICK HERE for complete coverage of the Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF 2010)

Nannerl, Mozart's Sister

Directed by: Rene Feret Cast: Marie Feret, Marc Barbe, Delphine Chuillot, David Moreau, Clovis Fouin Running Time: 1 hr 55 mins Rating: NR Release Date: TBD

PLOT: This film follows the story of Nannerl, the older but often overshadowed sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It chronicles her struggle to define herself in a male-dominated world and her journey into womanhood.

WHO'S IT FOR? Classical musical fans will enjoy this one for its emphasis on music, but also period piece fans. Self professed feminists may struggle with what to make of this film, but it's an interesting topic for fans of gender studies.


Nannerl, Mozart's Sister is an interesting piece of work. Director Rene Feret does an excellent job of illustrating the time period. The architecture is lavish, as is characteristic of such settings as Versailles, but there's also an understated somber feel to such decadence. Even though they're such expansive buildings, one can't help but feel the confinement that Nannerl is subject to throughout most of her life. It's always an impressive task when a director can project emotions onto pieces outside of the characters of their own making. However, the costume work is equally impressive and cannot be ignored in helping to create this garish yet stifling environment. These small details combine to give the viewer a strict sense of the atmosphere of the piece. In this sense, Nannerl is an unquestionable success.

However, the storytelling of Nannerl is a bit more problematic. The film attempts to show Nannerl as a young woman trying to define herself in a time period that didn't allow for women to be anything other than home makers or nuns. It's a noble effort, but Rene Feret has difficulty in deciding which element of Nannerl's young womanhood he wants to focus on. Certainly there's no rule that states he has to focus on one thing or the other, but as he bounces between Nannerl's sexual awakening and her coming into her own as an artist, it's difficult to tell which side of her Feret feels deserves the most exploration. Arguably, both sides of her warrant an equal amount of time, but when he tries to do this, it begins to feel uneven and often times, slightly unfocused. This lack of conviction makes the movie somewhat difficult to invest in as it drudges along. It certainly has the potential to be a compelling biopic, but instead, as the movie goes on, it begins to feel insincere and a little too proud of itself for tackling such material.

In the end, Feret's lack of commitment shows as he hurries through landmark events in Nannerl's life that deserve more attention than some of the longer scenes of her family's travels. What results is a muddled coming of age tale that attempts to say something profound about the life of Nannerl Mozart, but doesn't hit all the right notes.


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