(director: Claude Lalonde; screenwriter: Louis Godbout; cinematographer: Guy Dufaux; editor: Claude Palardy; cast: Patrick Stewart (Henry Cole), Katie Holmes (Helen Morrison), Giancarlo Esposito (Paul), Don Anderson (Third Reporter), Abdul Ayoola (Guard), Letitia Brookes (Maya), Drew Davis (Daniel), Nicholas Haze (Attendant), Christoph Gaugler (Felix); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Nicolas Comeau; Gravitas Ventures; 2019)
“An engaging, low-key drama.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The directorial debut of Claude Lalonde is scripted by Louis Godbout. It could have used more Schumann and Scriabin and less heavy-handed soap opera plotting metaphors about life. Nevertheless it’s an engaging, low-key drama of an aging septuagenarian, the British pianist, Henry Cole (Patrick Stewart), who is revitalized by his relationship with a free-spirited much younger (maybe 40 years younger) reporter Helen Morrison (Katie Holmes) who becomes his muse.
When Cole goes on his first concert tour in years, his comeback tour, after his wife’s death when he withdrew from the world, the New Yorker writer Morrison writes about his concert tour and gets involved in inspiring him to perform again despite his stage fright.
Helen wins over the reluctant subject by telling him how her musical career crashed in her youth at a competition because of nerves, and rescues him from a panic attack at a promotional Steinway exhibition.
The pianist reveals little about himself, choosing to be secretive and only offer hints of what he’s thinking. While Helen reads to him his own poetry from a book bought in a used book shop no longer published, in an effort to bring him out of his shell.
Giancarlo Esposito is endearing as the traumatized pianist’s lively manager, who inspires him to take the tour.
The narrative is clever but predictable, and not very convincing. But the stars are superb. The film is intelligent when it sticks to the music. For classical music lovers, the soundtrack has such piano pieces to revel in that range from Bach to Beethoven — all performed brilliantly by Serhiy Salov, a Canadian-born pianist of Ukrainian extraction. If you’re a lover of classical music, this is a good film despite its flaws.
REVIEWED ON 2/3/2021 GRADE: B