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The Kreutzer Sonata
IMDB Rating: 5.5/10 from 234 votes
Release: 20 June 2008 (UK) /

The Kreutzer Sonata

Genre: Drama
Director: Bernard Rose,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: A film by Bernard Rose, based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy with music by Ludwig Van Beethoven. Edgar Hudson meets Abby, a concert pianist, at a dinner party. Abby is involved with someone else but that doesn't stop the two from acting upon their strong attraction to one another. They start to sneak around but it's not long before they realize they should be together. Soon after Abby breaks up with her boyfriend, she becomes pregnant with Edgar's child - something that was not planned. Flash forward four years. Abby is now Mrs. Edgar Hudson, a resident of Beverly Hills and the mother of two children. In turn, Edgar is now the man who has everything; vast wealth, a gorgeous wife and two beautiful children. Unfortunately, the significant changes in Abby's life have made being a pianist, her true passion, a distant memory thus making her restless and unfulfilled. Her unhappiness is all too apparent, but instead of talking about it, Edgar chooses to ignore it. Edgar tries to cheer Abby up ... Written by Independent

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Critic Reviews

Wow, what an energising film. I'm tempted just to smash the keyboard and follow that up with some choice expletives. But I don't think the IMDb will allow such behaviour. I had no expectations for this film at all, it's the post-Oscars desert (just after the pre-Oscars desert), pre-Cannes, very pre-the-time-we-get-to-see-films-from-Cannes. I had a menu of blatantly market-driven pap and this oddity to choose from, but I've been so long without a proper film at the cinema that I broke, and went to see this one, how bad could it be if there was Beethoven playing? And hey, once I got into it I could see the director really believes in Tolstoy, you can see that in this movie, and you can see it by looking at his filmography and witnessing his continued desire to treat Tolstoy's works. In collaboration with Lisa Enos, the source material has really been updated, and is thoroughly modern. There's a line in the movie about how the world is run for women. Anyone that doubts that, we're told, should go to the mall, nine out of ten shops, don't contain a thing that a man would consider buying for himself. Damn that's so glorious. A giddy thought in a giddy movie. You are free to either take it as having a grain of truth or as sheer male paranoia.

It's all inspired by Beethoven's Opus 47, the Violin Sonata number 9. This piece is for violin, with accompaniment by piano. It's made clear, and it is not hard to follow, that with this piece, the to and fro between the two musicians, is like sex. In Prinet's painting of 1901 (accessible on the Kreutzer Sonata's Wikipedia page), you can see the male violinist, having finished the piece making moves to ravish the female pianist.

So we have Danny Huston playing Edgar, a vain and handsome middle-aged trust-funder, who seems to do little more with his time than fornicate and spend half a day a week "running" a charitable foundation (feet up behind the desk). For some reason I couldn't find it in my heart to dislike him, as, given the chance, I would probably prefer to spend my time doing such things as rolling around on a rug with a classical pianist who looks like Elizabeth Röhm, in between sips of white wine and ravenous biting of crayfish, a bolus of which mixed by her saliva sliding down my throat as I slip into her (not in this life!). His roguish good looks and faux bonhomie dampened down the truth that Edgar would probably be the most objectionable person I could ever meet in real life!

There are some outstanding drawn out graphic sex scenes in this movie which didn't look simulated. I'm one of these guys who often roll my eyes at sex scenes in movies, but I was all the way there on this one. After the initial banquet of fornication which forms the early stage of the relationship between Edgar and Abby (Röhm), comes marriage and two children, and the relationship sours somewhat. Abby "wants her life back", spoilt as she is. Edgar becomes increasingly jealous and in an act of Faustian indulgence starts to believe she is having an affair with a young violinist, whom he introduced to her, expecting from the start that she would sleep with him.

The cheap visual effects are somehow brilliant, back-to-basics, almost winding back the clock to the 1920s. They make the very melodramatic Tolstoyan madness of Edgar come alive without looking silly. The hand-held shooting style also manages to work, it takes the edge off the luxuriant milieu of the film, which otherwise may have appeared too glossy.

Watching this movie for me was like getting drunk, really that intoxicating. Edgar's attitude to Abby is wonderfully decadent, at one point, referring to her, he says, "nothing can nor should hold a wild animal back". Thank you Mr Bernard Rose for a movie that was like Starship Troopers II, only good.

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