Nannerl, Mozart's Sister (12A)

Starring: Marie Féret, Marc Barbé, Delphine Chuillot

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The Independent Culture

It wasn't just Salieri who had to play second fiddle to Mozart. According to this matter-of-fact historical drama, young Wolfgang had an older sister, Nannerl (Marie Féret), who was equally prodigious as a performer and composer.

Dragged around the courts of 1760s Europe by their ambitious father (Marc Barbé), Nannerl knows she's not like other girls, but gradually learns that her talent is to be thwarted: the violin is "no instrument for a girl", says Dad, devoting himself to training the boy. Writer-director René Féret imagines the young Miss Mozart's friendship with the teenage son and daughter of Louis XV – also trammelled by the social order of the day – and presents a touching and telling portrait of the times: the starchy codes of the pre-revolutionary French court, the cramped family quarters, the sudden illnesses (see the pre-pubescent Mozart with measles). Best scene of the film has brother and sister improvising a tune, then leaping out of bed in giggles to compose at the harpsichord. The rest is rather one-paced, but it has charm.

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