Release Date: November 10th, 2006 by MGM.
The Cast: Ed Harris, Diane Kruger, Matthew Goode, Ralph Riach, Bill Stewart, Phyllida Law, Nicholas Jones, Joe Anderson, Angus Barnett, George Mendel.
Directed by Agnieszka Holland.
BASIC PREMISE: In his later years, Ludwig van Beethoven (Harris) develops a special bond with Anna (Kruger) his beautiful, young copyist and caretaker.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Ed Harris transforms quite well into Ludwig van Beethoven, the well-known 18th/early 19th century composer who suffered from severe hearing loss and eventually became completely deaf. Here, he just becomes very hard of hearing instead. Anna, his copyist/caretaker, also happens to be a music student who idolizes Beethovenís work and tries to compose some of her own music while staying at this messy home. She doesnít get along well with the grouchy Beethoven at first but the more time they spend together, the more they become fond of each other. In a contrived subplot, Beethovenís nephew, Karl (Anderson), feels jealous that Beethoven spends more time with 23-year-old Anna. Karl happens to have a hidden agenda which she finds out later on. Meanwhile, Beethoven becomes jealous that she spends some time with her potential love interest (Goode) who is closer to her age but doesnít have any chemistry with her. This subplot feels underdeveloped as well. Screenwriters Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson should have focused on the relationship between Beethoven and Anna without distracting subplots that feel rather forced. The screenwriters assume that you already know about Beethovenís background, so they donít delve into it, but it would have helped a little to refresh his fansí memoryóeven though the relationship between him and Anna is fictionalized. On a positive note, both Ed Harris and Diane Kruger light up the screen in very strong performances and the scenes when Beethoven conducts his orchestra feel particularly captivating and magical, unlike the rest of the film.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Distracting, contrived subplots and not enough insight and info about Beethovenís life.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 3
IN A NUTSHELL: Mildly entertaining thanks to terrific performances and, of course, great music, but with distracting, contrived subplots and not enough insight into Ludwig van Beethoven.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD
The "C" Menu