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Bloody Daughter (2012)

An atypical family portrait, directed by 34-year old Stéphanie Argerich, the daughter of pianists Martha Argerich and Stephen Kovacevich. The filmmaker follows her mother in particular, during concerts and in moments of greater intimacy, searching for answers that might shed light on the private spaces of a family that has always lived in the limelight of the international stage, where gaiety and madness rub shoulders with an absolute and overwhelming passion: music.

Bloody Daughter (2012)

Passion Abated

This one is composed of mostly home movies, assembled by a daughter. A problem is that this woman had a difficult childhood, what with many step-siblings from different absent fathers. The film is clearly her project to fix what she saw as broken while celebrating what she cherished.

Through these eyes, we are also supposed to get something of value. The possibilities are there I suppose, but in these amateur hands all we get is raw exposure. A more brutal treatment could have produced something powerful.

Here we have a woman, originally from Argentina. She has romantic power of a very specific kind, that Latin energy absorbed threefold into immigrant hearts. A prodigy, she channels this into passionate romantic performances, thrilling the world in 1965 by winning the Chopin competition. We have so-called lost performances made shortly thereafter that are Chopin more erotic than he could be, more forceful than he was. Seductive, not dissipative, consumptive. They give energy rather than demanding it.

This was from a period of her life as a traveling artist, one experimenting with loves that cannot be performances. You need to listen to this, emotion that runs dangerously. Afterward, she also had many failed loves. She is still celebrated, and still among our best technicians. Her music still has energy but not that early passion.

Surely she knows this. There is a brief conversation where she hints the one night stand-induced first pregnancy took that energy. (This birth was our filmmaker’s.) Surely she knows the change. Does she mourn? Does being a woman in search of a partner and repeatedly failing give or take from the art? I believe that she could tell us. I believe that she could tell us enough that when we hear her later Chopin we will get it, the nuance of remembered rather than anticipated passion. About sex transformed into family. About health, energy and rest.

But not here. Not in this film, alas.

Posted in 2015

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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