The movie centers on a piano competition whose winner is assured of success. It is Paul's last chance to compete, but newcomer Heidi may be a better pianist. Can romance be far away? Will ...
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The movie centers on a piano competition whose winner is assured of success. It is Paul's last chance to compete, but newcomer Heidi may be a better pianist. Can romance be far away? Will she take a dive despite the pressure to win from her teacher, Greta, or will she condemn Paul to obscurity?Written by
Producer William Sackheim said of the film's writer-director Joel Oliansky: "No writer I know devotes more energy to research than Joel. He's like a sponge. He absorbs every minute detail of a subject." Typical of Oliansky's approach is a scene in which the six musicians choose the pianos they will play during the finals. Heidi passively makes her selection and is assured the instrument will be tuned prior to her performance. She questions whether it will also be voiced and the answer is a flat no. Paul is furious on Heidi's behalf. "What the hell is the good of tuning a piano if you don't voice it?", he storms. "It will be hopeless by intermission". The scene not only mirrors the deepening feeling between the rivals, Sackheim points out, but also the depth of Oliansky's research. "Voicing a piano.bringing the sound levels into balance, is precisely what would drive someone like Paul, with so much at stake, berserk. But who would know that except a trained musician or a hell of a well-researched writer?". See more »
Music for piano four-hands, that is two pianists playing at the same piano, is often printed with the two parts on different pages. The "primo" (top) is on the right pages, and the "secondo" (bottom) is on the left pages. So the two players of that Mozart sonata would not be looking at the same place. See more »
Romance and rivalry between two classical pianists
It's been quite a few years since I've seen this movie so forget all the details, but remember it more as an engrossing character study than a romance...and all with the added attraction of the classical piano context. The story is set at a prestigious piano competition in San Francisco. Paul is considered an older contestant at age 25. This is his last chance for a prestigious win that will spare him a teaching career and also please the father who is so proud of his son. Heidi is the lovely young newcomer virtuoso who poses his major competition. Winning is much more crucial here to Paul than to Heidi. Not unexpectedly, romantic feelings develop between the two rivals, who must both strive to be at their peak for the competition performances.
The lead roles are well cast with Richard Dreyfuss portraying the talented but desperate musician, Paul, and Amy Irving his gifted & more relaxed competitor, Heidi. I was impressed at the finger synching method used during the piano performances. Though not a musician myself, it seemed convincing to me that these actors were actually playing the pieces. I've remembered all these years that it was a Prokofiev Concerto that Heidi played so brilliantly. Lee Remick is Heidi's teacher, Gretchen, a possessive and demanding taskmaster who naturally does not approve of the budding romance.
The movie is not limited simply to rivals Paul and Heidi, but an assortment of other admittedly rather stereotypical competitors are also featured. This is a drama depicting in general the tension, rivalry, ambition, disappointment & triumph of high stakes competition, whatever the field. Therefore, the themes are something a lot of viewers, even non musicians, can relate to in one way or another. Of course there is a question of potential sacrifice here, as these two competitors have fallen in love. Whatever the chemistry between Paul & Heidi, the romance itself is quite forgettable. The fierce competition rivalry and the backdrop of classical piano are the memorable elements that distinguish this film from all the other love stories out there. This is a must see movie for pianists and indeed all classical music lovers.
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