Feature is a re-imagined account of the early life of Maria Anna "Nannerl" Mozart (Marie Feret), five years older than Wolfgang (David Moreau) and a musical prodigy in her own right. Originally the featured performer, Nannerl has given way to Wolfgang as the main attraction as their strict but loving father Leopold (Marc Barbe) tours his talented offspring in front of the royal courts of pre-French revolution Europe. Approaching marriageable age and now forbidden to play the violin or compose, Nannerl chafes at the limitations imposed on her gender. But a friendship with the son and daughter of Louis XV offers her ways to challenge the established sexual and social order.
Any one with younger siblings will, at one time or another experienced that twinge of jealousy when they are the centre of everyone’s attention. For most of us those moments come because of fairly small accomplishments or incidents; for the lead protagonist of this movie however it’s all a little more intense than getting a part in the school nativity.
As the film’s title suggests Mozart’s Sister tells the story of composer Wolfgang Mozart’s older sister, Anna-Marie, affectionately known as “Nanneri”, an accomplished singer, violinist and composer in her own right, who found herself pushed aside when her brother’s own prodigious talents became apparent.
The story is a loosely dramatized biopic that begins with the entire Mozart family travelling by horse drawn coach to various palaces in 18th Century Europe so that their son can perform for the occupants. By this time Nanneri has been relegated to accompanying the young Wolfgang on harpsichord and by singing; we soon learn however that this was not necessarily her own choice, but rather the wish of her ambitious stage-father who, like today’s Hollywood Mom’s, is eager to build their child’s fame regardless of the cost to everyone else. In this case Nanneri finds herself forced to bow to social pressures and simply accompany her brother, because it’s socially unacceptable for a woman to play the violin, let alone compose.
This is the entire basis of the movie, and explores the way this social pressure and childhood infamy affect the Mozart family; focusing mostly on Nanneri.
For Mozart fans this movie is likely to be hugely intriguing and was, by all accounts, well researched and is based largely in fact, whilst us everyday film fans will love the casting choices made by writer/director Rene Feret. Both sides of the audience are also treated to a fantastic combination of Mozart classics and tracks composed specially for the movie by Marie-Jeanne Séréro to stand in for Nanneri’s own.
Feret has made this quite a family affair, casting two members of his own family in two key roles of the picture, yet it is not those who leave the most striking impression; as ever, life imitates art and you can’t help but find yourself utterly swept up by David Moreau who plays the young Wolfgang.