Madame Sousatzka is one of those coming of age to win the big competition films; albeit, the kid doesn't come of age (that will be his next step) and there is no competition. And the lovable, eccentric coach is the maddening, overbearing piano teacher, Madame Sousatzka. Sushila and Manek Sen, an immigrant Indian family, moves to London. Sushila, the mother, supports her son, Manek, by cooking pastries for an upscale department store out of her cramped kitchen. Manek is a raw child prodigy of the piano. For years, Sushila has been funding Manek's studies by selling off her family heirlooms. They hook up with Madame Sousatzka, one of the top piano teachers in London. She has issues, however. She smothers her students. She has an "art for art's sake" philosophy, and she doesn't believe that her students should seek commerce for their skills. And she tries to hide her students from the world. Through flashbacks, she relives her failed career through her students. I just finished watching this film for the second time--the first since 1988. It holds up really well. Shirley MacLaine, who plays the title role, gives one of her best performances. She is neither showy nor mannered, in a role that was too easy to devolve into both. Navin Chowdhry (Manek) seems like a natural at the piano. His part calls for him to be cocky and nervous, all at the same time. And he does it quite well. And the supporting roles from Twiggey to Peggy Ashcroft seem to hit the right chords. There is a lot of great music in it. And the direction and the pace of the film are swift. I think if the film would have spent too much time talking about music, I would've been bored. As it is directed, I was captured by all the pieces played. Finally, I couldn't help but notice that Ruth Praweer Jhabvala adapted this piece. (I, in fact, researched this film to find out who wrote it.) It's the work between A Room with a View and Howard's End. It really shows off her style of writing. There is this great sense of time and space of modern day London here, as there was in early twentieth century London in Howard's End. And dangerous intimacies seem to be a subject she likes tackling in all three films. Overall, Madame Sousatzka is well worth the two hours.
Drama / Music
Drama / Music
Renowned Russian piano teacher Irina Sousatzka gets a new student - Bengali piano prodigy Manek. They are both immigrants in the UK and bond quickly. When Manek's single mother's business fails, he must make a career decision.
August 26, 2020