Madame Sousatzka (1988)

JOHN SCHLESINGER

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

United Kingdom, 1988.  Cineplex-Odeon Films.  Screenplay by , John Schlesinger, additional material by , , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Golden Globe Awards 1988.

An overdone performance by Shirley MacLaine almost ruins this intimate little drama, but it’s still worth enjoying. She plays an eccentric piano teacher living in London whose star pupil () is a prodigy in the making. The boy’s single mother () wants him to immediately hit the concert world and start earning lots of money, while MacLaine feels that he has to harness his overly confident personality before he can be ready to express himself successfully through music. As we get to know her life story, we realize that she might be holding him back in order to make up for things she missed out on in her own career as a musician. There are also subplots that surround the story, one involving the building MacLaine is living in which has been condemned for destruction, and others about her neighbours who live in it.  is delightful as a naïve girl who is looking to become a pop star but keeps getting taken advantage of by heartless men, and Peggy Ashcroft is lovely as a kindly tenant who befriends a lonely old man.

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