26 February 2009 | moonspinner55
What's the Norwegian word for 'jolly'?
Critically-lambasted musical adaptation of the successful play regarding the early years of Norwegian pianist/composer Edvard Greig (played by Toralv Maurstad, a Bruce Davison lookalike with oddly shaped eyes). Grieg--initially a rowdy scamp in the 1860s who pined after a lovely girl from a prominent family while trying to get his sonnets published--found himself frustratingly without a benefactor or any professional engagements in which to showcase his work, later marrying his cousin and barely scraping by giving piano lessons. For the most part, writer-director Andrew L. Stone has crafted a not uninteresting, frequently engaging romp with several intentionally funny asides and endearingly klutzy musical numbers. The on-location shooting in Norway and Denmark is lovely, even if the cinematography in general is poor and the editing mediocre. Frank Porretta is a robust presence as fellow composer Richard Nordraak (who sings to the heavens and, at one point, directly to Edvard while seated in a restaurant!). Yet, just about the time Grieg is gaining some prominence for his hard work, the narrative (loose to begin with) gets all balled up, with too many tragedies coming to a head at once. This patchy third-act, punctuated by a myriad of nature shots and sunsets, doesn't allow the viewer any emotional satisfaction, and the finale is flat. More genuine style and gloss was required, and classical purists will probably scoff, however the picture has a lively beginning. Results are far from terrible. ** from ****