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Creative license with composer's life

`Copying Beethoven,' a quasi-biopic about the composer's difficult final years, is largely about his relationship with a fictional assistant.

November 10, 2006|Carina Chocano | Times Staff Writer

Maybe because the relationship makes very little sense, the characters seem as though they were put there to reflect the other's feelings. For Anna, Beethoven is a screen on which to project her fantasies. For Ludwig, Anna is a handy ear in which to funnel his loneliness and rage. His reactions are so explosive, in fact, they require rack-zoom reaction shots from Anna, who nonetheless stoically suffers her disappointment in her hero's social skills and soldiers through the work. When the doorknob-deaf Beethoven (though his hearing impairment appears to be rather mercurial and selective) insists to Schlemmer's horror on conducting the symphony himself, Anna steps in as ghost conductor. Together, they bring the piece to an ecstatic chorale climax, at which point an earthquake seems to hit the concert hall.

Shot by Ashley Rowe to look like a cross between a Vermeer retrospective and a music video, "Copying Beethoven" is silly and misguided, if reasonably entertaining for its charming lack of self-awareness, its weakness for lines like "Loneliness is my religion!" and its transcendently beautiful music.


`Copying Beethoven'

MPAA rating: Rated PG-13 for some sexual elements

An MGM release. Director Agnieszka Holland. Screenplay Stephen J. Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson. Producers Sidney Kimmel, Michael Taylor, Rivele, Wilkinson. Director of photography Ashley Rowe. Editor Alex Mackie. Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes .

In selected theaters.

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