Mozart's Sister

Mozart's Sister

2011, NR, 120 min. Directed by René Féret. Starring Marie Féret, Marc Barbé, Delphine Chuillot, David Moreau, Clovis Fouin, Lisa Féret.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Dec. 16, 2011

This film’s spotlight goes not to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, about whom much is known, but to his sister Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart, nicknamed Nannerl, who was five years his elder. Nannerl was also a musical prodigy, with a talent that, according to some accounts, rivaled her brother. The children performed together and traveled the whole of Europe with their parents, performing in royal palaces and drawing rooms. Their father Leopold was their teacher, but while Wolfgang’s education included lessons in composition, Leopold acquiesced to the propriety of the times and forbade his daughter from writing the music that ran rampant in her imagination.

Mozart’s Sister is a family affair. Marie Féret, who plays Nannerl, is the daughter of writer and director René Féret. Another daughter is also cast in a key role. René Féret’s re-creation of late 18th century Europe has a naturalistic tone, with attention paid to atmospheric details of costumes, sets, and comportment. It’s not clear, however, what it is that René Féret wants to tell us about Nannerl. The film is not a feminist treatise about a potential female artist lost the black hole of history and conventions. Nor is it a thorough reimagining of a dutiful daughter’s acceptance of patriarchal will. It doesn’t seem as though René Féret knows clearly what he wants to convey. Neither does it help that Marie Féret is not a compelling performer, though she probably lacked clear guidance as to how to portray the character. In the end, she still remains “Mozart’s sister” and not a persona unto herself.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Stunning French tale of a woman seeking an abortion is depressingly timely

May 13, 2022

From the Archives: Organizing Outside the System – Deborah Shaffer and <i>The Wobblies</i>
From the Archives: Organizing Outside the System – Deborah Shaffer and The Wobblies
Our 1981 interview with the filmmaker behind the classic doc

May 3, 2022


Mozart's Sister, René Féret, Marie Féret, Marc Barbé, Delphine Chuillot, David Moreau, Clovis Fouin, Lisa Féret

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle