Is genius genetic? It seems to be so in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s family. In the new film, “Mozart’s Sister,” we learn why we knew so little about a second prodigy in the family.
The story centers on Nannerl (Marie Féret), at age 15, sister to Wolfgang (David Moreau), age 11. She serves as accompanist to her brother while they travel in 1763 around Europe. Father (Marc Barbé) calls all the shots, including that of putting a stop to Nannerl’s profound talent and focusing on Wolfie. You see, she was just a woman, incapable of composing. When, in actuality we discover that she, in fact, wrote some of baby brother’s earliest compositions.
That’s how it was back then, no matter who you were. Even the king of France had his daughters hauled off to a convent. When Nannerl befriends one of the princesses, Louise (Lisa Féret), she becomes enmeshed in a cross-gender morality bender with the wack-o Dauphin (Clovis Fouin).
Director René Féret poses the question of what might have been for Nannerl had it not been for her gender. The Dauphin was so impressed by her talent, he had her secretly writing compositions for him. Quelling creativity by women on any level was simply the status quo.
“Mozart’s Sister” is a masterpiece to watch and hear. The costumes, images and music beautifully accost the senses. An added coup was René Féret obtaining permission to film at the Palace of Versailles. The lavishness of the interiors is almost incomprehensible to absorb.
There are a lot of Férets running about in this lush period piece. My count was four as the credits ran. Nepotism works well for Monsieur Féret — the acting was superb.
“Mozart’s Sister” is not only an exposé on sexual discrimination during pre-Revolutionary France, it’s also about dedication. The Mozarts are depicted as a family who relished, revered and were bound by their passion for music. Too bad one of them never received the credit she deserved.
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