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Copying Beethoven

In love with the music, not the man
By BROOKE HOLGERSON  |  November 8, 2006
2.0 2.0 Stars

Ed Harris as Beethoven in this new film from Agnieszka Holland doesn’t so much chew the scenery as he does chomp down, masticate, and spit it out when he’s done. He plays Beethoven as a blowhard and a bully whose deafness has progressed to the point that, when the film starts, he’s forever shouting at everyone. That includes Diane Kruger’s feisty yet obedient copyist, whose pluck and talent eventually win old Ludwig over long enough for her to save his ass during a concert. Holland creates some visually interesting moments, and she makes Beethoven’s music seem a living thing. Which explains why Kruger’s character sticks around: she’s in love with the music, not the man. It’s a good thing Holland is capable of showing us her love of Beethoven, because Kruger can’t convey the emotions herself — she’s lovely to look at and that’s about it. Stuck between Kruger’s blankness and Harris’s overemoting, the film never finds a balance.

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