Toronto 2019: The Audition

The Audition. Courtesy of TIFF.

The Audition is about a high school teacher who sees a lot of talent in a student and ends up training him much to the detriment of her family.

The Audition follows music high school teacher Anna Bronsky (Nina Hoss, in one of two leading roles during TIFF).  Anna sees a lot of talent in a student, Alexander (Ilja Monti), and wants him to play violin to the best of his potential.  Unfortunately, pushing Alexander to pass the exam also ends up taking a toll on her own family.  Anna pushes aside her own duties as a mother to son Jonas (Serafin Mishiev).  If this isn’t enough, she becomes estranged from husband Philippe (Simon Abkarian).  Bad decisions ends up getting made on Anna’s part.  One decision includes an affair with Christian (Jens Albinus).  It isn’t the best decision in the world.  Nor is being talked into joining a quintet knowing she has issues with her hands.

Make no mistake that Jonas certainly must be feeling something with so much attention being placed on Alexander.  There is probably a sense of jealousy.  Regardless, Anna is certainly not the best mom.  Far from it in all likelihood.  There’s this internal pressure to be the best of the best and of course, she passes this down to her son.

At first glance, I thought this film could probably be similar in tone to The Kindergarten Teacher.  I couldn’t have been more wrong because it’s nothing like that film at all.  Bronsky just pushes Alexander to be the best.  That’s all.  There’s no instances here–thank G-d–of going overboard by kidnapping him.  Yes, she’s in a dead marriage but she more or less did that to herself.

Screenwriters Ina Weisse and Daphne Charizani are familiar with the world of orchestras.  The two of them work together to create this world in which a mother/wife distances herself from her family.  Music means the world to Anna and with the concert going haywire, it only increases the burden that she places upon herself.  What makes for an interesting choice is to hardly even show the affair at all. The film doesn’t want us to really focus on her being unfaithful to Philippe.

Nina Hoss delivers a remarkable turn as Anna.  Anna may not be the best mother or even wife but oh, well.  Regardless, The Audition is a character study but with a focus on relationships.

DIRECTOR:  Ina Weisse
SCREENWRITER:  Ina Weisse and Daphne Charizani
CAST:  Nina Hoss, Simon Abkarian, Jens Albinus, Ilja Monti, Serafin Mishiev

The Audition holds its world premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival in the Discovery program. Grade: 3/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.