TIFF review: The Audition

Nina Hoss commands the screen as a highly strung violin teacher whose relationship with a promising pupil disrupts her life

THE AUDITION (Das Vorspiel) DISC D: Ina Weisse. Germany/France. 99 min. Sep 8, 3:15 pm, TIFF 3 Sep 10, 5:45 pm, Scotiabank 8 Sep 13, 5:30 pm, Scotiabank 9. Rating: NNNN

Art, sex and creative competitiveness combine in compelling ways in Weisse’s absorbing psychological drama set in the Berlin music world.

Highly strung violin teacher Anna (Nina Hoss) sees something in a promising young pupil (Ilja Monti) and agrees to help him prepare for her school’s entrance exam. But spending time with the shy, unassuming boy soon affects her home life with her violinmaker husband (Simon Abkarian) and her son (Serafin Mishiev), a reluctant violin student himself. She’s also carrying on an affair with a fellow musician (Jens Albinus), who convinces her to start playing in a string quintet. 

Co-writer Weisse directs with a subtle hand, dropping hints about mental illness, immigration and class that all play into the characters’ fates. Above all she lets Hoss – one of the most intelligent screen actors working today – command the screen with her watchful eyes and pinched, dissatisfied mouth.

As a bonus, there’s lots of great music, although much of it is underscored with some pretty tense drama.

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