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COPYING BEETHOVEN (KLANG DER STILLE) (director: Agnieszka Holland; screenwriters: Christopher Wilkinson/Stephen J. Rivele; cinematographer: Ashley Rowe; editor: Alex Mackie; music: ; cast: Ed Harris (Ludwig van Beethoven), Diane Kruger (Anna Holtz), Matthew Goode (Martin Bauer), Ralph Riach (Wenzel Schlemmer), Joe Anderson (Karl van Beethoven), Phyllida Law (Mother Canisius), Bill Stewart (Rudy), Nicholas Jones (the Archduke Rudolph); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Ernst Goldschmidt/Marina Grasic/Andreas Grosch/Jan Koerbelin/Andreas Schmid/Ronaldo Vasconcellos; MGM; 2006-UK/Hungary-in English)
“Earnest but lackluster period biopic on the final days of the mentally tortured deaf composer Ludwig von Beethoven.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Acclaimed Polish director Agnieszka Holland(“To Kill A Priest”/”Europa, Europs”/”Total Eclipse”) directs this earnest but lackluster period biopic on the final days of the mentally tortured deaf composer Ludwig von Beethoven (Ed Harris), that’s set in Vienna, in 1824. It’s deftly written by Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen J. Rivele, but even if the screenplay is enjoyable it doesn’t have the oomph to inspire and is too plodding.

The well-bred attractive 23-year-old aspiring German composer, Anna Holtz (Diane Kruger, German actress), a fictional conceit, is a student at the Vienna Music Conservatory who is hired to be a copyist (transcribing Beethoven’s messy scribbles into readable pages). This takes place because music publisher Herr Schlemmer (Ralph Riach), the usual copyist, is too ill from cancer to assist. An elderly Beethoven is working on his glorious Ninth Symphony, while living in his untidy Vienna apartment. Though at first there’s an antagonistic relationship between the two, with Beethoven not accepting her because she’s a woman, they soon get over that and develop an acceptable working relationship and a Platonic romance blooms. Trouble kicks in when Anna can’t take the always grouchy and egotistical Beethoven’s heavy-handed critique of her original compositions.

It ends on a high note, with the composer’s career-defining Ninth Symphony, a work it took him ten years to finish, playing for the last ten minutes (as superbly performed by the Kecskemet Symphony Orchestra of Hungary).

English actor Joe Anderson adequately plays the shiftless nephew of Ludwig. Matthew Goode plays the progressive engineer bridge-builder who is engaged to Anna.

A bewigged Harris makes for an acceptable Beethoven. While Kruger does well as the beauty taming the beast.

REVIEWED ON 11/17/2014 GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”