Life With Music (a.k.a. Coda), 2019.
Directed by Claude Lalonde.
Starring Patrick Stewart, Katie Holmes, and Giancarlo Esposito.
A conflicted virtuoso pianist with performance anxiety, strikes an unusual relationship with a young music critic.
Emotional dramas centered around the subject of music is not something new. They can come in myriad forms, ranging from pageantry filled biographical dramas like Milos Foreman’s Amadeus or more small-scale romantic comedies like John Carney’s Once. Every year brings its share of similarly themed films and director Claude Lalonde’s Life with Music comfortably fulfills the need for such a guilty pleasure, in this trouble filled year.
Life with Music follows the story of pianist virtuoso Sir Henry Cole (Patrick Stewart) who, following his wife’s tragic demise has become something of a recluse and taken a lengthy break from performing music in public. But Cole has second thoughts about his triumphant return to the world of music; he has started developing stage fright and experiencing anxiety issues during his performances, much like an inexperienced novice would. He too is at a loss to explain his current predicament to his ever-intuitive confidant cum manager Paul (Giancarlo Esposito). Enter vivacious free-spirited music critic Helen Morrison (Katie Holmes), who turns Cole’s life upside down and inspires him to overcome his fears and bring happiness to others through his music.
Both Patrick Stewart and Katie Holmes possess great chemistry as the film’s leads adding life and a certain ‘oomph’ to the proceedings because-make no mistake-the plot is quite a derivative and predictable one. Stewart imbues his character with a sense of quiet elegance and emotional restraint, while Holmes truly shines as the conflicted artist’s effervescent muse. In the supporting roles category, the ever-dependable Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad fame is the one worth mentioning here. Esposito instills his onscreen persona with the right amount of charm, humor and emotion, deftly balancing his limited screen time with the two leads while delivering a memorable performance.
From a technical standpoint cinematographer Guy Dufaux deserves high-praise for crafting a beautiful looking film replete with some stunning landscape montages. The film’s sublime soundtrack composed of uncommonly featured classical pieces from the likes of Schuman, Schubert and Rachmaninoff, is also worthy of note.
Life with Music may be predictable, but it does offer a charmingly refreshing diversion from a cinematic landscape choking on caped crusader shenanigans and computer-generated razzmatazz… which is just what the audience needs right now.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Hasitha Fernando is a part-time medical practitioner and full-time cinephile. Follow him on Twitter via @DoctorCinephile for regular updates on the world of entertainment.