Patrick Stewart plays a renowned concert pianist named Henry Cole who has become wracked with anxiety about performing in this location-skimming yet curiously inert drama from first-time director Claude Lalonde. Luckily for Henry, an encounter with perfectly coiffed, perpetually soigné music journalist Helen Morrison (Katie Holmes, gamely trying to claw her career back from an early grave) revives his love of life and ability to give back to audiences and acolytes. While a May-December romance chastely blossoms between Henry and Helen, Henry’s flamboyantly fluttery agent-manager Paul (Giancarlo Esposito, playing very much against his Breaking Bad persona) lends further emotional support and mincing line readings from the sidelines.
Despite the fact that the characters are perpetually jaunting off to the Swiss Alps and other romantic haut-bourgie locations, this is one of those films where nothing much seems to happen at all. Beethoven’s last piano sonatas play a key role in the story, so it’s fitting that the tempo throughout is a moderately slow adagio: stately but lulling.
Indeed, the music is the best thing here and the film does a decent job of convincing us that Stewart himself is really playing, even if we all know he isn’t. Whoever is playing does a bang-up job, and the background of piano-tickling throughout, including many trills and arpeggios, is easy to tune into over the vapid dialogue.
Stewart seems to be sleepwalking his way through this, falling back on his sonorous voice to do the heavy dramatic lifting while poor Holmes struggles with a character so beatifically written, I was expecting her to be revealed as a figment of Henry’s imagination.
Source: The Guardian