Madame Sousatzka

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Customer Reviews:

  • Wonderful movie
    It is one beautiful movie I've ever watched. The movie deals with so many issues: clash of western/eastern cultures, a 13-year-old boy going through the pain of growing, society problems in England -- the tenants are chased out of their apartment because someone thinks the apartment needs to be torn down, an old man being mugged by young boys, etc. There are class issues as well. And the boy, the piano student, is being pulled toward pre-mature success, against his teacher's will, because his single mother has lost her job and they have no other means to survive. The clash between the mother and his teacher (played by Shirley MacLane) is pretty real and funny too. Two women compete each other to mother him, and he is at the age he wants to be independent. He's also attracted to a woman who lives in the same apartment as his teacher.
    All these issues are finely woven, and you will see the real lives of all who are involved. Obstacles are everywhere, but regardless of what happens, the boy cannot stop from growing and he moves on.

    Wonderful, wonderful movie. A must for movie lovers....more info
  • A fine study of the psychopathology in classical music
    This is a very fine portrayal of the bullying, exploitation, and lack of interpersonal boundaries that pervade the classical music industry. I give it four stars for its entertaining "true-to-lifeness"---even the boy's mother uses him incestuously. The only reason I didn't give it five is that Schlesinger himself exploits his adolescent star at times, probably unconsciously (as in the massage scene). Instead of growing up and/or getting the intensive psychotherapy they so desperately need, these people will continue to perpetuate their unhealthy dynamics transgenerationally. The proof is in the statements of the other reviewers: no one has spotted that this boy is constantly being abused. The proof is also in the characters themselves: the movie ends with Souzatska's former student walking a new junior to her studio. He will never wake up to the fact that the woman is disturbed...and actually rather evil. Instead, the cycle of mental damage will continue for decades, if not centuries....more info
  • should be available on DVD
    This fine movie and its wonderful soundtrack are too good for VHS and deserve to be preserved on DVD....more info
  • Huh?
    I will concede that Shirley MacLaine's performance as the very charismatic piano teacher is extraordinary. Yet, how does one get around this ridiculous premise that centers on a fifteen-year-old piano prodigy, who has never played publicly before, debuting with the London Symphony Orchestra? This story could have been told in a more effective and believable way. The actual result was an extraordinary performance wasted amid fantastic claptrap....more info
  • 5 1/2 stars for a wonderful movie from the heart...
    John Schlesinger became famous as a polemic and very socially oriented director, but this is his Masterpiece of all times.

    It is not a monumental movie and it is not a box-office smashing hit.

    No. This is a far superior work of artistry, worked and reworked from the guts and above all, from the heart.

    The story is very skillfully developed and has plot twists and turns as the classical masterpieces interpreted in this movie.

    Yes, because it is a tale of two cultures: the Western and the Eastern. The western side is taken by a (Russian?) piano teacher, living in London (masterfully played by a magnificent Shirley MacLaine) and the Eastern is represented by a would-be
    and reticent Hindi piano student.

    Not only does Schlesinger tell us the story of the two and their passions and strives in life, but also gives us a whole palette of undertones in quite different social worlds.

    Despite its length (slightly over two hours) the movie has never a dull moment or a static conversation. Emotions are fully and honestly expressed by all involved and never for a moment, one can feel he is watching a movie here.

    Quite the contrary. All the characters play their parts so much to the hilt, that it "sucks" us in and doesn't let loose until the end credits roll.

    I am not an emotional person generally, and many "tearjerkers" only make me crack up, so academic they are, but when I watched this movie for the first time in New York City at the Carnegie Odeon Movie Theater, I must admit I came out in tears and had to make an effort not to be noticed for that.

    Not that it is particularly sad, quite the contrary. Despite some very dramatic moments, it is truly a wonderful comedy.
    No the sadness comes out from the realism contained in the lives of the characters, in which we all could find similarities.

    The dreams, the passions, the disappointments, the crime and punishment and finally, the absolute redemption are all very important factors in this excellent movie.

    The music world is only a mask to show us a much deeper view on society as such. But the film is conducted by Schlesinger (the old fox) as an orchestra conductor, directing a symphony by Beethoven.

    His baton is light but never loses out on a note. His conducting is comparable to the mastery of Herbert von Karajan. The only difference is that he waltzes with a camera.

    If you want to discover a different movie from the same-o, same-o, then this is an absolute must see.

    I personally laughed, cried, got concerned and was worried, was uncomfortable, then immediately relieved by pleasant surprises throughout the entire movie, but above all, it made me think about the similarities with my own world and this is probably why I learned to love this tiny masterpiece.

    I just own the VHS version, but would like to plea the producers of the movie (Universal was the distributor, but the movie was a Cineplex/Odeon production) and all those who are involved in DVD production to finally decide to release a pristine copy, with a decent digital sound and a crisp image.

    Of all the movies around, this one surely would merit an extra effort to digitalize it and therefore preserve it for posterity.

    I can only recommend it. This movie is for all, although some scenes may be a bit difficult to understand by younger audiences, without an adult presence. But in reality, this is a naive suggestion, since it has to be watched by the entire family on a quiet movie evening around the living room.

    You need some concentration though, to watch it. It is not a popcorn and beer movie. This is a movie for those who love to think....more info

  • Rich film about teaching, growing up and classical music
    This is one of the films that I remember for many reasons. If you have a love for the the teacher's ardent desire to share passion, classical music, family drama and the idea of living life with purpose, you'll love this film. Shirley MacClaine is an idiosyncratic, passionate teacher of music as well as life. She wears her heart of her sleeve and uses a personal and vulnerable approach to teaching the piano. The situation with her main pupil is complicated and challenges her to give without knowing whether her dreams will come true....more info
  • Wonderful....
    Although there is one rather foul word in the movie, for the most part, the movie is excellent. Great music, and a story that makes you think....more info
  • Flawless piece of art!
    Wonderful film with flawless performances! It is also one of the most underated films ever and it'll be a shame if it is not "preserved" on DVD format! This movie really draws you in and Shirley MacLaine was really incredible in her role as the eccentric passionate music teacher! I love this movie and can go on forever talking about it but I guess I will just end here and keeping my fingers crossed that they will release it on DVD!...more info
  • Bravo!
    This is an excellent, multi-dimmensional movie about tradition and moving on. Shirley MClaine plays Madame Sousatzka, a concert piano teacher, who takes on a 15-year-old Indian boy in London as her pupil. She drives him like a dog, but falls in love with him too, and tries to protect him from the money grubbing agents. She fails at this (inevitable, I suppose) because he need the money to help his mother. The film tries to do too much in its 126-minute length, with certain elements being carried only so far and then abandoned (Madame S.'s son Edward, her own past and failure, and the girl pop singer Julie [played by Twiggy] to name just three). But everyone does a bang-up job, and the story is wonderfully told and full of subleties and nuances that add much to its depth and our appreciation. Worth a watch....more info
  • A pre-conceived tour-de-force for MacLaine
    Derivative elements hinder story of an eccentric Russian piano teacher in a decaying neighborhood of London (a literary descendant of Jean Brodie and possibly Auntie Mame) who coaches a brilliant immigrant youngster from India in music and life. Modest drama, marked with false uplift and poor color, contains a multitude of sub-plots which never come together cohesively, serving little purpose other than to pad the slim central story. Shirley MacLaine has good moments as Yuvline Sousatzka, yet the character herself rings curiously hollow, despite MacLaine's obvious desire to make this woman both human and larger-than-life. Director John Schlesinger was probably too grim a filmmaker for such material; with the exception of a remarkable final shot of a neighborhood in transition, Schlesinger's touches are too heavy (he's hardly the filmmaker to find whimsy in any scenario). The screenplay is made up of musty literary mechanisms, though young Navin Chowdhry nearly makes the set-up plausible....more info
  • Beautiful
    This movie was a beautiful story about an Indian boy and his piano teacher. It was imaginative, funny, and moving at places. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a touching story....more info
  • A lovey film to be watched again and again
    This movie made a Shirley MacLaine fan out of me. Madame Sousatzka is a flamboyant, eccentric piano teacher who struggles with her past as she seeks to make the best of her students. She is a stern but loving taskmaster as she teaches a young man not only about music, but about life. If for nothing else, the film is worth watching for an elegant dinner party scene in which teacher and student play a Schubert piece for four hands, amid what appears to be hundreds of burning candles. Subplots involve changes in the lives of the residents of Madame Sousatzka's aging but lovely apartment building and finding companionship in old age....more info


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