‘Il Boemo’ Evaluate: A Sumptuously Appointed Czech Musical Biopic



On the top of his profession, Czech-born composer Josef Mysliveček was essentially the most prolific and sought-after determine in Italian opera, certain for immortal movie star. Almost three centuries later, his title isn’t forgotten to classical music students, however neither does it have something approaching family standing; the details and information of his private life, in the meantime, have largely been misplaced to historical past. Through a mix of free narrative hypothesis and exacting musical presentation, Petr Vaclav’s stately, luxurious biopic “Il Boemo” seeks to revive a level of iconic standing to a expertise latterly overshadowed by relative 18th-century contemporaries, albeit not with a lot swagger or modernity of its personal: That is costume drama of a standard, ornately brocaded stripe, a classical music lesson for classicists.

That’s not prone to do “Il Boemo” any hurt because it additional travels the pageant circuit following its world premiere in San Sebastian’s most important competitors, the movie’s profile enhanced by its choice because the Czech Republic’s candidate for the worldwide characteristic Oscar. Older arthouse audiences, specifically, ought to end up for a lush, multilingual European co-production within the custom of Gérard Corbiau’s ‘90s success “Farinelli: Il Castrato” — or, extra optimistically, Milos Forman’s “Amadeus,” which, like “Il Boemo,” informed the story of an related profession finally consumed by the prodigious legend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

As Mysliveček — recognized in Italy as Il Boemo (The Bohemian) to admirers unwilling to grapple with the syllables of his final title — Vaclav has forged charismatic someday pop singer Vojtěch Dyk, a range that cannily suggests the composer’s magnetism in his pomp, even when the movie’s up to date allusions are in any other case scarce. Working from a patchy confirmed biography, one closely depending on correspondence with Mozart within the Czech composer’s remaining decade, Vaclav’s episodic script fashions him right here as a cosmopolitan playboy interloper in Italian excessive society — a minimum of, after a quick, Rome-set prologue that introduces our hero shortly earlier than his impoverished loss of life in 1781, aged simply 44, his face masked to hide the ravages of syphilis.

As we rewind to brighter days in 1765, DP Diego Romero — finest recognized for his collaborations with docmaker Roberto Minervini, right here working in an altogether extra opulent register — virtually flushes the body with Venetian gold. Unmasked and unmarked, the younger Czech migrant climbs the Floating Metropolis’s social ladder by providing music classes (and far else moreover) to well-to-do womenfolk, breaking the center of 1 aspiring cellist as he vaults into an affair with older aristocrat Rezzi (Elena Radonicich). Ultimately he secures the ear of risky star soprano Caterina Gabrielli (an imperious Barbara Ronchi), whose hard-won admiration is essential to his ascendance in Italy’s thriving opera scene — itself offered in a transitional state between Baroque grandiloquence and Classical lightness.

Mysliveček adapts nimbly to altering occasions and tastes, wowing such lofty listeners because the callow younger King of Naples, but is suffering from the sense that his artistry isn’t reaching or resonating so far as it may. That notion is echoed by essentially the most fixed and elusive of his many lovers, unhappily married noblewoman Anna (Lana Vlady), who advises him that his music “could possibly be felt extra deeply.” That’s a blow to the ego, definitely, although maybe not fairly as dispiriting as his burgeoning acquaintance with the teenaged Mozart (a deliciously bratty Philip Amadeus Hahn, himself a younger piano prodigy), who, within the movie’s wittiest scene, magnificently riffs on one in all Mysliveček’s compositions with a crushing lack of seen effort.

Not that “Il Boemo” treats the Czech composer’s work with equally offhand disdain. For newcomers to his oeuvre particularly, its wonderful musical remedy right here — performed by Václav Luks and performed by his famend Baroque orchestra Collegium 1704 — is the movie’s overriding pleasure, delighting even when the storytelling sometimes palls throughout a deliberate 143-minute runtime. But for all Vaclav’s dedication to his topic (whom he beforehand explored in his 2015 documentary “Confession of the Vanished”), Mysliveček doesn’t fairly emerge as a complete character: Solely a single, tone-shifting scene within the composer’s native Prague (with Dyk moreover taking part in his twin brother) alludes to an in any other case vaguely drawn previous.

The movie’s Italian milieu, however, couldn’t be extra vividly illustrated, fusing wealthy historic places with grandiose design work by Irena Hradecká and Luca Servino. Andrea Cavalletto’s costume design, in the meantime, does extra than simply throw embellished splendour on the display, as a substitute thoughtfully recycling objects to remind viewers how Mysliveček, even at his peak, was by no means too removed from seamy spoil: Specifically, one attractive frockcoat in turquoise velvet follows him by way of the years, a dandy’s aspirational uniform at one level, a literal marker of light glory afterward.

Source link