Mozart's Sister

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We all know the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The child prodigy started playing music when he was six, had written symphonies and sonatas by his early teens, grew up to resemble a braying Tom Hulce and produced a canonical body of work before his death at age 35. Far less known is the tale of Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart, li'l Wolfy's older sibling. Nannerl, as she was commonly known, was also an outstanding musician, accompanying her brother on the harpsichord as the family performed across Europe during the 1700s. Her dream of becoming a first-rate composer was squashed, however, as she had the "misfortune" of being born a woman.

Anyone doubting this thesis should proceed directly to Ren Fret's biopic of the elder Mozart, which goes to great pains to reiterate how the era's misogyny robbed us of an extraordinary talent. Watch as Nannerl (Marie Fret, the director's daughter) must live in the shadow of her bratty younger brother (Moreau) while futilely begging Dad (Barb) for more in-depth tutelage. Observe how she must dress up as a man to see her true love, Louis de Bourbon (Fouin). Listen to how Louis's sister explicitly mentions that if only they were boys, the world would be theirs! The film's dogged repetitions regarding Nannerl's real-life raw deal dilute the reparative nature of the story after a while, and not even the movie's grainy, retro--art-cinema look can keep viewers from gradually tuning out.

Follow David Fear on Twitter: @davidlfear

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Release details

Release date: Wednesday March 2 2011
Duration: 120 mins

Cast and crew

Director: René Feret
Screenwriter: René Feret
Cast: Marie Féret
Marc Barbé
Delphine Chuillot
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