Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sophie's Choice: "The Accompanist" (1993)

Sophie, a masterful pianist is hired by opera singer Irene to be her accompanist onstage during Nazi occupied Paris. Irene's husband, Charles, a businessman, is also introduced, and director Miller takes us through the kind of story an American studio would not even dream of making anymore.

Irene is having an affair with Jacques, and she and Sophie and Charles decide to leave France for London. They are attacked by a single German plane on their way, but make it. The climax, involving death and lost love, is chilling.

Why did I love this film so much? The pace is slow, but it gives you a chance to get to know the characters, all of whom are so well drawn and acted, I kept forgetting this was fiction. Irene is completely unhappy with her marriage, but keeps smiling onstage. Charles wrestles with his conscience, telling himself he is not taking financial gains with the Nazis. Sophie, the main character, just wants to belong in a normal life situation, witnessing it from anywhere else but the piano bench as some singer's gofer.

The direction and cinematography are excellent, and the music, featuring Beethoven, Mozart, et al., is incredible. I am at a loss of words about what a good film this is, and this will give you another side of WWII. (* * * * *) out of five stars.