Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: Mozart's Sister (2010)

I heard about this a while ago and thought the costumes looked great. But then I saw that it was in French, so I assumed that I'd never get a chance to see it. But then, thanks to Netflix, I saw that this movie was available on Instant Streaming. So, I decided to sit down and watch this one day.
DVD Box Art

Maria-Anna Mozart (also known as Nannerl) at age 14 is traveling with her family across Europe performing with her younger brother, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who is about 10. Leopold Mozart, Nannerl's father, forbids her from composing her own music and from playing the violin and restricts her to playing the harpsichord.

Since this is the only French movie I have seen, I did not recognize any members of the cast. An interesting fact, though: Marie Feret and Lisa Feret, who play Nannerl and Princess Louise of France, are not only sisters in real life, but their father also directed this movie.

And another note: the entire movie is in French with English subtitles. It's the first French movie that I am reviewing on Elegance of Fashion.

Nannerl dressed as a boy: would this have
realistically happened? I doubt it.
Now, since I don't know very much about Mozart's early life (let alone Nannerl's), I can't comment on this movie's authenticity, but part of me felt that at least part of this movie must be invention. Can we really imagine any 18th century lady dressing up as a boy on multiple occasions to speak to the dauphin or to play in front of an audience? And can we imagine any dauphin continuing to see such a lady after she confessed that she was a girl? I can't, but that's just me. Chances are (though I can't say for certain) you may just have to watch this movie just for the story line and not for an authentic biography.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Nannerl Mozart
playing music together.
Anyways, back to discussing the characters. We see the story through the eyes of Nannerl herself. She has talent. She can play multiple instruments. She can sing. She wants to compose her own music. But her father won't let her. I can feel sorry for Nannerl: she has this great talent that can't go very far. We see Wolfgang throughout the movie as a boy with talent, and not the man that we usually picture him as. I hated the way his hair sat on his head! It looked like a wig that was too big for the boy!

Leopold Mozart, Nannerl's and Wolfgang's father, is portrayed in a very bad light. After all, he is the one that said that Nannerl cannot compose music or play the violin. He boosts Wolfgang's talent, but doesn't praise Nannerl's great work. He makes Nannerl and Wolfgang go all over Europe to perform and lies about their age to make them seem younger. I felt that towards the end, the film makers took advantage of Leopold's behavior about Nannerl to convey a feminist message, which is something I disliked: by conveying a feminist message, they modernized the story, which is something that you don't want to do in a period drama. This feminist message becomes especially clear during the epilogue, which made the movie end on a sour note for me.

Nannerl walking with the dauphin, Louis of France
at Versailles. An example of great interior scenery!
Then there's the issue with the dauphin. Honestly, the way he looked throughout the movie was creepy! I would had thought he was sick throughout the movie. Besides that, there was a bit of a romance going on between him and Nannerl. This I felt was made up since it seemed like something that would sell well in the theaters, but didn't seem realistic to life.

All the cinematography is excellent! We see many types of scenery: outdoor, indoor, palaces, a convent! Everything looked great! The colors, the clarity!!

The costuming in this movie
is exquisite!
Finally! Another movie with Georgian fashions! I love Georgian fashions, so I was definitely looking forward to seeing all the costumes in this movie. To say the least, I was not disappointed. There were a number of great costumes in this movie. What I noticed was that during a concert scene, powdered wigs were used on Nannerl and her mother, but for the most part, they went without wigs. Something to do with their income, perhaps? The only thing I didn't like was Wolfgang's hair, but I covered this earlier. If you need ideas for Georgian fashions, check this movie out!

How could I review anything containing Mozart in the plot without reviewing the music? The music was fantastic! Much of the music is harpsichord or violin music (since those are the instruments that Nannerl and Wolfgang play). There is also some singing. The actress that played Nannerl had a very lovely singing voice. Definitely the film is worth watching for the music.

Overall: 3.5/5
Okay, so the plot wasn't exactly the most uplifting, but it was interesting at times. The plot wasn't the high point of this movie (sorry, but I had to take points off for that), but if you just watch the movie for the scenery, costumes, and (probably most importantly) the music, you're in for a treat and it may be worth the watch. Just don't watch this movie and expect it to be historically accurate because even though I don't know much about the real Nannerl and Mozart, I could tell that at least some of the story was made up.

There is some content that you may want to be aware of. There is some swearing and, with no other better way to describe it, "low brow" or vulgar humor. There is also some more mature content that may not be appropriate for small children under the age of (maybe?) 10. There may be a scene or two that you may want to skip. Excepting those two scenes, the movie would be rated PG, but with the two scenes PG-13. I would say that if you plan to show this movie to a class or a group of children, watch this movie first before you show it.

Mozart's Sister is available on DVD and Blu-Ray in the original French with English subtitles. It runs for 120 minutes.
Nannerl playing the violin.


  1. Thanks for this review! I had seen previews for this movie and thought it looked interesting, and I was just wondering the other day if you might do a review on it. If you're interested in learning more about Nannerl, I definitely recommend the book "Mozart's Sister," by Nancy Moser. I had read another book about Nannerl before (which I do not recommend) which left me feeling depressed and angry with her father, but this one, written by a Christian author, sheds different light on the story. Moser also wrote a book on Jane Austen, called "Just Jane," and that one was also incredibly interesting!


  2. I second the book by Nancy Moser. Her "Just Jane" book is good as is the one card "Washington's Lady" a fiction novel about Martha Washington, and "How Do I love thee?" It is about Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

  3. I loved this film.
    I agree, the scenery, and costumes were stunning. The soundtrack is just as amazing as the film. I loved it. Great review!
    ~Nailah D'arcy

  4. I third the Nancy Moser book "Mozart's Sister." It is an excellent book and I really learned a lot about Mozart and Nannerl's lives.


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