(out of 5)
World-renowned baritone Jose Van Dam makes a rare turn to acting with impressive effect in this lovely film by Gerard Corbiau. He plays a, what-else, world-renowned baritone who announces at a London concert that his performance will be his last, before retiring to the countryside to teach. After accepting the lovely young protégée of a close friend as a student, a raw and unpractised young man comes under his tutelage as well and the two youngsters develop their skills while discovering an attraction for each other. Trouble comes in the form of a conniving prince who was once Van Dam’s rival when they were young; now he is setting his own student against our star’s two proteges at a singing competition that he hosts in the countryside. This is a minor work by a director who would later go on to bite off far more than he could chew: his dedication to period details has remained impressive in subsequent works but this is the one film that does not sag under the weight of its own grandeur. The romance is always in a minor, subtle key while the beautiful music is allowed to set the tone for personal clashes that are dramatic without ever becoming hysterical.
Directed by Gerard Corbiau
Story by Gerard Corbiau, Luc Jabon, Screenplay by Andree Corbiau, Gerard Corbiau, Christian Watton
Cinematography by Walther van den Ende
Academy Award Nomination
Best Foreign Language Film (Belgium)