8 December 2011 | stuka24
Great biopic on a French Canadian piano child prodigy.
This is a fine film about the real life of a piano player and composer, Quebec-born Andre Mathieu.
If you see a boy who started his education at the earliest age, being well taught by his father, having his first concert at age 5 *(Yes, like W. A. Mozart), being recognized by Serguei Rachmaninof himself, who had raving concerts at Juilliard and Paris' Chopin hall, what would you think he would turn out to be? A famous composer, probably.
Well, this real life story make you feel the anguish and intensity of a concert when you are just a boy and your parents are depending on you for ... survival. Some scenes inside of the piano, shown in parallel of Andre playing show us the intricacies of how the rapturous sounds we hear are made.
I would have liked to see and understand a bit why, how the child prodigy becomes the adult pianoton player, how the two "stages" of the protagonist's life connect. At that I agree with Dorning "Francophone fan", who writes on Amazon: "with no real progression of events, no real reason why. Domineering mother? Misunderstood composer?". Also a bit more about his ignored sister Camillette, and his parent's personalities, besides the manipulating mother and frustrated father. The Couteau quote in the beginning, or the phrase by the mother: "we marry not out of love, but to escape our parent's home" (said in front of her husband) may be clues, but... Both Rodolphe and Andre mention frequently the fight between "composer" and pianist/ virtuoso. This inner struggle is enough to drive a bright man to booze? I am not that sure. The two women of his life, Colette Ostiguy and his estrange wife, are beautiful and supportive, but the first one has the age of her mother (...), we never get to know what happened to the second one, and besides that, they both knew him when he already had a drinking problem, so again, it's not that. Finally, Cécile Lebel, the major's wife, a woman of influence, only tries to help him. So it's not his parents, neither love. From what I understood, Andre suffered a neurotic unsolved conflict between what he once was and the grim realities of a piano player. I'm open to reader's suggestions! Personally I can't see how somebody whose compositions won over Berstein's while beeng about 10 can not have public just escapes me.
Marc Labrèche, yes, from one of the funniest TV series ever, "Le coeur a ses raisons", shows his full range as an actor here, but this shouldn't surprise us I guess. Beautiful Macha Grenon plays Andre's domineering mum, and Zaccari-Charles Jobin is very natural as a child prodigy with enough maturity and poise to tell his anxious parents, right before his big Paris concert: "Mum is too nervous" :).
The film is studded with famous Canadian actors. Mitsou plays a woman he met at his popular concerts, for instance. I didn't understand much the "Pipo" character (the young pianola street player). Wilfrid Pelletier, his father's former pupil who became a great orchestra director in NY, Mr. Hutcheson from Juillard, the French agent, Marcel de Valmalète ... You end up hating them all :). Another good thing is the piano played by Alain Lefèvre, the same performer of the CDs you can obtain of his works on the web.