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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
According to the 23rd January 1981 edition of show-business trade paper 'The Hollywood Reporter', actress Amy Irving and actor Richard Dreyfuss achieved "verisimilitude" with the assistance of a Fender-Rhodes silent keyboard. Whilst pre-recorded piano music was played through a sound system, pretend pianists Irving and Dreyfuss synched in their silent piano playing with the actual piano music. See more »
Greta, a legendary pianist, mentions the "una corda" pedal, but pronounces it "yoo-na kor-da". This is not the proper way and any musician knows it is "oo-na", not "yoo-na". See more »
Ostensibly about the competitiveness between gifted young pianists, this picture is actually about ambition, disappointment, sacrifice, love, betrayal and a lot more. By the time this film was made, Dreyfuss had already fallen into his period of self-adulation during which he exalted himself, but sometimes, sadly, not his work. Amy Irving had not yet married (and divorced) Steven Spielberg, a move that for many reasons probably ended her career in Hollywood. As leads, they both came to their roles in perfect form, and their intelligent and layered performances are the centerpiece of this astounding ensemble cast.
The movie does a great job of convincing us that we are looking through the keyhole into the rarefied world of young pianists who look upon the likes Vladimir Ashkenazy as a peer while still finding themselves as adults. They angst over their futures, which always seem just out of reach, and then render performances of the classical repertoire that amaze and delight. All the while, they trip through the comically serious pas de deux of youthful obsession.
Lee Remick is stunning as the demanding teacher to Heidi Joan Schoonover (Irving). I get the feeling that the original character was supposed to be a lesbian, but Remick's instrument won't play that note. Instead, she is a hard-nosed, totally serious, single-minded taskmaster who demands, and brings forth, the best from her pupil. Dreyfuss is the driven and desperate young man who, while gifted, has never been able to break through as a serious musician, and who, hounded by financial responsibilities and tempted by a job that cannot possibly provide more than a paycheck, runs the risk of being washed up at 25.
They become romantically involved, much to Remick's dismay, only to find themselves competing head to head for the most coveted prize in their field. Can they work it out knowing that only one of them can win? Hey, it's the 80's!
There are basically two kinds of movies. Those in which things happen, and those in which we get to know the characters. This is a shining example of the latter. I've loved this film since its original release, but I still yearn for a DVD edition.
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