Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
United Kingdom, 1988. Cineplex-Odeon Films. Screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, John Schlesinger, additional material by Peter Morgan, Mark Wadlow, based on the novel by Bernice Rubens. Cinematography by Nat Crosby. Produced by Robin Dalton. Music by Gerald Gouriet. Production Design by Luciana Arrighi. Costume Design by Amy Roberts. Film Editing by Peter Honess.
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 (Navin Chowdhry) is a prodigy in the making. The boy’s single mother (Shabana Azmi) 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. Twiggy 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.
Golden Globe Award: Best Actress-Drama (Shirley MacLaine) (tie)
Nomination: Best Original Score
Venice Film Festival Award: Best Actress (Shirley MacLaine) (tie)