The Audition

Cinema | (12A) | 99 minutes |

Alexander (Ilja Monti), a serious teenager, takes to the stage to begin his violin audition before a room of jurors at a prestigious Berlin music school. The vote is split, and he is criticised for lacking technique. His soon-to-be violin teacher, Anna Bronsky (Nina Hoss), stands up for him in a seemingly benevolent manner, insisting that she can train him. And so begins her obsessive quest to make the boy’s vocation distinct and draw out of him the unique sound she believes he possessed in his audition.

Alexander does not respond well to her increasingly strict and regimented approach. She orders him to practice four hours a day – “sometimes quantity creates intensity”, she tells him. Anna’s personal life has been steadily collapsing, which exacerbates her fixation. It is implied that her husband, Philippe (Simon Abkarian), an instrument maker, is aware that she is having an affair, and her gifted, 10-year-old musical son, Jonas (Serafin Mishiev) hates her.

Philippe offers her guidance with Jonas and provides general support, but he is not sentimental. He is equally committed to his profession and makes clear that he does not have room in his life for “feelings”. She is invited to join a quintet by her colleague and lover, Christian (Jens Albinus), but as she’s subject to nervous reactions, reluctant to perform in concert, and her eventual participation leads to an embarrassing experience.

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