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In Germany, the elder Frau Traude Krueger gives piano classes in a prison for a few prisoners and the security guard Mütze. When she sees the rebel and aggressive Jenny Von Loeben playing piano, she immediately identifies her potential and offers to teach her for a competition. Frau Krueger finds that Jenny was a prodigy when she was a child; abused when she was a teenager and has been imprisoned for murdering and decapitating a man. Along the period they work together preparing for the exhibition, Frau Krueger discloses secrets about her love in World War II while the self-destructive Jenny has four minutes of glory and recognition of her talent. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When student Jenny is at Frau Krüger's (b. 1926) home, a picture of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) and one of Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954) can be seen on the wall above the piano. Earlier, we see a picture of Furtwängler when the young Krüger is being coerced by a member of the Nazi party to rebuke her friendship with her then student (circa 1944). See more »
In several sequences where we see Jenny playing the piano, the notes we hear do not correspond to the keys she plays. See more »
I saw this last year at a screening by the Desert Film Society. Director/writer Chris Keaus shows promise in this, only his second film. The film is set in a German penitentiary and revolves around two central characters, Traude Krüger (Monica Bleibtreau), an elderly spinster who is a piano teacher at the prison and working long past her retirement age and Jenny Von Loeben (Hannah Herzsprung). a young woman serving time on a murder conviction. Jenny is also a a naturally gifted pianist under her gruff demeanor who Krüger wants to tame long enough to enter her in a piano competition to give a four minuter recital in a prestigious concert hall before an affluent audience. Krüger lives and teaches order and conformity and comes from a past where the Nazi's were about order and conformity in their world of fascism and she had to adapt to that world while suppressing her the non-conformity of her lesbianism. Jenny has a violent temper and comes from a world of childhood abuse and has lived a life of disorder and non-conformity while suppressing the order and conformity of her protégé talent. Jenny likes modern music and the modern rhythms and passion of the street and experimental music scene while Krüger hates modern music. Ironically the piece Krüger has chosen for Jenny's recital is by German composer Robert Schumann who's own approach to music incorporated rhythm that was considered daring for it's day. Director/writer Kraus may have thrown in another little ironic tie-in to Schumann where a guard at the prison has a young daughter named Clara who Krüger had no patience with because she wouldn't curtsy. Schumann's wife and great love of his life was named Clara. This is a film that keeps your interest throughout but the screenplay has lots of gaps and implausible scenarios and runs a little long but despite its flaws, the two fine acting performances by Bleibtreu and Herzsprung are certainly noteworthy and I would recommend the film and give it a 7.0 out of 10.
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