Life With Music
Claude Lalonde makes his directorial debut with the philosophy-driven drama Life With Music, a competent but slow feature about a pianist’s pain and journey of self-discovery. Following a tragedy, Henry Cole (Sir Patrick Stewart) finds performing his musical talents anxiety-inducing, and he grapples with his emotions as he embarks on an expedition of healing to play music once again for the world. Through dynamic acting accompanied by a beautiful score, the film is full of strong moments, however, its pacing and mundane dialogue make it drag on.
As a famed pianist making his comeback after three years of not performing, Henry’s music and story soon catch the attention of reporter Helen Morrison (Katie Holmes), who he later forms a romantic relationship with. After tragedy strikes, Henry goes on a pilgrimage to the Swiss Alps to revitalise his perspective on life and the art he creates. The narrative is a well-structured character portrait, acted tremendously by Stewart, whose emotions depict an honest and raw account of grief and life-long struggle. However, the actors thrive best on their own, as opposed to during Life With Music’s many two-hander scenes. The relationship with Holmes lacks believable chemistry, making the first half somewhat of a chore to watch.
Life With Music’s strength lies in its visual storytelling. Stewart’s most intimate and powerful moments occur in isolation but are strongly realised through Lalonde’s decidedly cinematic direction and framing. Written by Louis Godbout, the screenplay is largely well-ordered and frequently eloquent, providing some beautiful and heart-breaking perspectives on music and age, but they are often accompanied by verbose, unbelievable dialogue. The growing pains of Godbout’s first feature directed by someone else are evident and, unfortunately, stifle much of the clearly clashing vision in Life With Music.
It’s a promising start for director Lalonde, with flashes of brilliance but it’s ultimately held back by missed opportunities and often ill-defined characters.
Life With Music is released digitally on demand on 27th July 2020.
Watch the trailer for Life With Music here: