Why do good, solid movies like this get made then completely disappear, while totally stupid U.S. comedies full of jokes based on farting and puking and big mammaries play in the theatres for months, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars? Big promotional dollars and control of screens, nothing more.
This is witty and charming. It has terrific minor characters - the slightly nutty boss, the father who dresses like a gardener but speaks with the patter of a drug lord, the sweet little grandma who keeps a big kitchen knife close at hand to take on the home invaders she expects whenever the doorbell ring. And there is a really heart-warming love story (awww!). All against the scenic backdrop of Vancouver.
First of all, Katherine Hepburn is badly miscast as Clara. She just can't be convincing as the devoted, selfless, rather smarmy wife that the writers have created.
But the real weakness of the film is its shallowness in the face of a potentially great piece of drama. Schumann's bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder amounts to "Oh, oh, I have a headache" and the occasional angry word. Suicide? The word is used, but there's no sign of it in domestic scenes and when we see him in the mental hospital he's calm and subdued and smiling and optimistic. A superficial treatment. And Brahms is so upright and bourgeois - no sign of his gruff humour, his love of tweaking the noses of the establishment, no sign of his tortured attitude toward sex and women resulting from spending his youth playing piano in brothels. And was Clara's long concert career entirely about promoting Robert's music, or was she, in fact, a remarkable pianist who wanted a career for herself, a female pianist carving out a place for herself in a male world? Any sort of treatment of the lives of great artists is better than none, but this is a standard Hollywood, middle-of-the-road approach, particularly disappointing because the real story is so much more dramatic, so much more interesting, so much more human.