From the Bachs to the Brubecks, from the Marsalises to the Hendrickses, musical talent often has run in families, and while Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lit up the latter half of the 18th century with his genius, the style of the times pushed his sister, Maria Anna, known as Nannerl, into near-oblivion.
She still gets short shrift (Didn't someone once say that short shrift is better than no shrift at all?) in "Mozart's Sister," an interesting, tuneful, rather limited story about the Mozart Family's Traveling Concerts on a European tour, with the seven-year-old Wolfgang as the child prodigy playing his own works on violin while Nannerl, five years older, accompanied him on the harpsichord.
The costumes and castles are attractive, but the story is slender and the acting is less than inspirational. In fact, it's somewhat of a family endeavor, involving writer-director-actor Rene Feret and some of his own children. Marie Feret is the title character and Lisa Feret portrays Louise of France, daughter of Louis XV and friend to Nannerl. The director is seen as a music professor. Feret's screenplay "re-imagines" biography. He has used much of the published material on the Mozarts, but goes off into his own imagination for a great deal of the interaction and plot details
Nannerl apparently had considerable musical talent of her own, though a comparison with her brother eclipses her. He was writing and playing like a virtuoso when he was five or six years old, stunning the crowned heads of Europe with his performances. Father Leopold (Marc Barbe), an accomplished musician himself, lavished all his praise and encouragement on young Wolfgang, while Nannerl was not permitted to compose and was strictly an accompanist, or a listener, while her brother took center stage. Leopold even told Nannerl not to play the violin, describing the instrument as "unfeminine."
Young David Moreau works earnestly as the little Wolfgang. He plays (or appears) to play properly, and with proper genius-like expressions.
There's a lot of lovely Mozart music in the film, but the incidental and original music shoots its own dart at Papa Mozart. It's composed by a woman, Marie-Jeanne Serrero.
Mozart's Sister opens today at the Plaza Frontenac