All films reviewed by GREG KING

Last updated May 28, 2021


This psychological drama and character study from German actress turned filmmaker Ina Weisse is a dark study in ambition, and obsession. This is her sophomore feature, following 2008’s The Architect.

Anna Brodsky (played by veteran German actress Nina Hoss) is a violin teacher at a prestigious Berlin music conservatory who becomes obsessed with the progress of one of her students. She spies great talent in the introverted teenaged prodigy Alexander (newcomer Ilja Monti, in his film debut) and prepares him for an audition to be granted entry into the conservatory, but she drives him mercilessly. Written by Weisse and Daphne Charizani (The Architect, etc) this is an intense psychological drama and is often quite and uncomfortable film to watch.

The combative relationship between the teacher and the wilful student is reminiscent of the tension between J K Simmonds and Miles Teller in Whiplash, although here director Weisse is more interested in a different focus.

Anna is obsessed with Alexander to the extent that she often overlooks the needs of her own family. We get some insights into her fractious relationship with her family, including her ten-year-old son Jonas (Serafin MIschiev), himself something of a musical prodigy, and her long-suffering husband Phillipe (Simon Abkarian, from Zero Dark Thirty, etc), a well-respected luthier who crafts musical instruments, whom she neglects, and her aged parents. Anna is also having an affair with a fellow musician (Jens Albinus).

But there is a terrible price to pay for her obsession and neglect.

Anna is a thoroughly unlikeable and deeply flawed character, neurotic, cold and sometimes cruel and highly strung. Hoss is terrific in the role with a quietly controlled performance and her icy demeanour.  

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