Copying Beethoven (12A)

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The ViewNewcastle Review

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Review byMatthew Turner15/08/2007

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 104 mins

Disappointing, frequently dull drama despite a decent performance by Ed Harris and a stunning central sequence.

What's it all about?
Set in 19th century Vienna, Copying Beethoven stars Diane Kruger as Anna Holtz, a would-be composer who wangles herself a job as a copyist to her hero, Ludwig Van Beethoven (Ed Harris), despite the protestations of her architect boyfriend (Matthew Goode). Beethoven isn't thrilled with the idea either, but Anna quickly wins him over and her own talent as a composer flourishes as she helps him prepare his glorious Ninth Symphony.

The Good
Ed Harris is good value as usual, although his performance does come across of a bit of a naked bid for Oscar glory – it's just a shame the rest of the film isn't as good as he is. Having said that, the film does contain one genuinely brilliant sequence, when Beethoven finally presents his Ninth Symphony to the world and is confronted with rapturous applause that he can't hear.

The Bad
The biggest problem with the film is Diane Kruger's performance - she's a fairly glacial actress at the best of times and it's difficult to warm to her as a result. Similarly, the script is extremely dull and the fact that Kruger's character is entirely fictional (and, moreover, would not have been permitted to work as a copyist at that time) makes the entire film seem a bit pointless.

The cinematography is dark and dismal throughout, giving the film a rather gloomy atmosphere in the process. Several recent period films (e.g. The Libertine, Pride and Prejudice) have tried the same trick in their quest for authentic lighting and it always backfires. What's wrong with a bit of sunlight, exactly?

Worth seeing?
Ultimately, this is a dull and uninspiring film, despite Harris' best efforts. Still, if you wait long enough, the concert sequence will no doubt be online and you won't have to sit through the rest of the film at all.

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Content updated: 24/07/2012 05:15

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