Anna Bronsky (Nina Hoss) sees potential in a violin student (Ilja Monti) that her fellow teachers at the musical conservatoire don’t. Investing tremendous amounts of effort in preparation for his intermediate exams, Anna’s work-life bleeds into her personal life, affecting her son (Serafin Mishiev) and husband (Simon Abkarian).
It’s the notes not played that make The Audition. This is a film that relies on the nuanced performances of it’s leads to convey meaning. It makes the audience work for it, often forced to interpret the behaviour of its cast of damaged and emotionally stunted characters to gain clues as to their current mindset and the history that shaped it. It is in that silence that you often gain insight and meaning. Although not the easiest watch, you are certainly rewarded with an emotional rollercoaster, a drama that can cause whiplash, as it lifts you towards ecstasy and plunges you to despair.
Nina Hoss is key here, her Anna Bronsky is timid and withdrawn, but hides a depth of complexity and self-doubt. She is the nexus for every relationship, with the events driven either by her, or in a reaction to her. As such The Audition is a slow and precise character study that requires patience to unlock. It showcases the dedication and sacrifice required to reach for artistic perfection, but also the fragility left in its wake. This metaphor is threaded throughout the film, from her husband’s lecture on careful choice of wood for instruments, to the arrangements of music. It enforces the central conceit, as well as immersing viewers in the world of music.
An interesting character study, The Audition requires some patience from its audience to unlock, but packs a solid emotional punch if they persevere.
The Audition is playing as part of the 2021 German Film Festival, running from June 3-20 at Palace Raine Square, Luna Leederville, and Luna On SX. Check the website for screening times and film details.