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If it's the magic name Mozart that attracts you to this film, you will be mildly disappointed. The 11-year-old poppet who plays Wolfi is hardly more than a well-costumed prop, and there are scant snatches of any music in the film. [I suppose one should be thankful that there isn't a pseudo-classical soundtrack slurping sweetly in the background.] Yes, it's really about Nannerl, Mozart's older sister, and it has a 'message' to expound, about the frustration of a young woman's genius in a paternalistic society.
With Nannerl as protagonist, Leopold Mozart, the composer's notoriously domineering and ambitious father, is the chief antagonist in the script of this film; essentially, Father Leopold precludes his daughter's aspirations to compose for two reasons, first that it's not imaginable to him that a Woman could indeed compose worthily, and second that he aspires to see his daughter married well, above his own rank in society. That's historically accurate; Leopold Mozart did prohibit his daughter even from performing publicly at age 18, and refused to let her accompany him and Wolfgang to Italy. Nannerl (Maria Anna Mozart (1761-1829) stayed with her parents in Salzburg until her arranged marriage in 1783 to a wealthy widower with five children already. Nannerl returned to Salzburg, with four of her step-children and two of her own children, after her husband's death in 1801. Her parents and her famous brother were already dead by then, and Nannerl lived quietly. Wolfgang's widow Constanze and her nephew Franz Xavier had no contact with her until the 1820s, when she had become feeble and blind. There's lingering myth that she died in poverty, but in fact she left quite a substantial estate of money. The only solid indication "we" have that Nannerl ever attempted to compose comes from encouragements in letters from her brother; not a single bar of any such composition is known to exist.
There's a second parallel script, however, in the film, a 'libretto' complete with the cross-dressing so popular in 18th C opera. While traveling by coach toward Paris, the Mozarts -- father, mother, Nannerl, and little Wolfi -- are forced to spend several nights at an abbey of nuns. There Nannerl meets the three daughters of King Louis XV, who have been committed to the care of the Abbess; Nannerl 'bonds' in friendship with the youngest daughter, who will eventually find a 'spiritual vocation' as a nun herself. In the short term, however, the little Princess commissions Nannerl to deliver a secret letter to a young man, a commoner, in the entourage of Louis le Dauphin (1729-1765; son of Louis XV, father of Louis XVI). In order to approach the Dauphin, who is in mourning for his wife who died in childbirth, Nannerl is disguised as a young man. The Dauphin, a tormented introvert, is charmed by the "male" Nannerl and demands "his" friendship, challenging "him" to compose a concerto for violin for the Court. Nannerl indeed composes such a work, concealing her efforts from her father, but eventually she is compelled to reveal her true gender, whereupon the Dauphin transforms his imperious friendship into even more imperious, and impossible, love. This is obviously a libretto for an 'opera seria', a tragedy, as the Dauphin is forced to renounce Nannerl for a royal alliance with a Saxon princess.
Before you ask, let me say that none of this plot is historically accurate or plausible in the least. The dates don't align, the ages of the historical figures don't match those of the characters in the film, etc. The behavior of the two operatic lovers, Nannerl and Louis, is extremely improbable. In short, it has all the elements of an 18th C opera! All it needs is music, preferably by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart though Salieri would do. One would need to scrap the historical script of conflict between father and daughter, to keep the opera focused on the love affair. But think of the impassioned arias such an opera would feature!
The French do atmospheric costume period films well. It's the atmosphere that makes this film successful -- the visual splendor of dress and decor in the 'ancien regime' of pre-Revolutionary France. "Mozart's Sister" isn't as poignantly moody as "Tous les Matins du Monde" or as colorfully lusty as "The Return of Martin Guerre", but it's in that grand tradition. The acting is convincing enough, with Louis le Dauphin 'stealing' every scene in which he appears. Little Wolfi, the boy actor that is, seems stiffly constrained in his gorgeous braided jacket and tricorne, but that could well be a touch of historical verisimilitude.