Coda

This 2019 film starring Patrick Stewart and Katie Holmes is a departure from our focus for the blog on viewing (and, reviewing) Hollywood classics (‘30s-early ‘50s).  At the recommendation of a friend, we watched this film over the Labor Day weekend (it’s available to rent on Prime Video). It is both touching and incredibly sad because it is, in part, about love lost – twice! The story in a nutshell is about Henry Cole (Stewart), a world renown pianist, late in his career.  He returns to the stage after a long absence following the death of his wife to find he suffers from stage fright and mental instability. Enter Helen Morrison (Holmes), a music critic for The New Yorker, who wants to write a story about Henry and asks for an interview, which he politely declines.  Helen, by the way, is also the narrator for much of the film.  Nonetheless, they meet up again several days later at Steinway Hall where Henry suffers another panic episode. Helen joins him on the bench, rescues him from embarrassment and earns his trust.  He agrees to do the interview.  Throughout the next several scenes, Henry’s mental condition worsens and his manager, Paul (Giancarlo Esposito) is concerned that the comeback tour, particularly a premier recital in London, will need to be cancelled.  Helen, now Cole’s frequent companion, encourages him to travel to Sils-Maria in the Swiss Alps to hear another famous pianist for the benefit of the mind-altering effects of the pianist’s interpretation of Beethoven’s Sonata op. 111.  While things do take a turn for the worst, Henry ultimately emerges and decides to give the recital in London – a crowning achievement.  In our opinion, there are three reasons to watch this film: 1) The three principal actors turn in superb performances; 2) The story is gripping and at times unexpectedly suspenseful; and, 3) The music and the scenery, particularly in the Swiss Alps, is breathtaking.  We rate it:  Worth the Search.

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