DVD Review: The Audition (2019)

STUDIO: Strand Releasing | DIRECTOR: Ina Weisse | CAST: Nina Hoss, Simon Abkarian, Jens Albinus, Ilja Monti, Serafin Mishiev
RELEASE DATE: Oct. 20, 2020 | PRICE: DVD $18.59
BONUSES: trailers
SPECS: NR | 99 min. | Foreign language drama | 1.85:1 | stereo | German and French with English Subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 3Dishes.jpg (40×13) | Audio  | Video  | Overall 3Dishes.jpg (40×13)

In Ina Weisse’s The Audition, Anna Bronsky (Nina Hoss, Phoenix) has stepped away from life in the orchestra to become a violin teacher at a Berlin music academy. Music is a family affair: her husband Philippe (Simon Abkarian, Casino Royale) is a former musician turned luthier and their son Jonas (Serafin Mishiev, Daniel) is an emerging talent but prefers a hockey stick rather than a bow.

Unsure of what she wants at this stage in her life—even choosing a table and entre at a restaurant seems to be a difficult task–Anna carries on an affair with one of her colleagues (Jens Albinus, Silent Heart) in pursuit of something, anything on which to focus her energies.

Nina Hoss in The Audition

That something presents itself at the school’s audition session in the form of the talented Alexander (Ilja Monti, a champion violinist in his debut feature), whose admission Anna pushes through against some opposition from the other teachers. She soon becomes fixated on helping Alexander pass the school’s intermediate exam, while neglecting her family and prompting Jonas to see Alexander as a rival.

As she pushes Alexander harder and harder in his practice sessions, one wonders if her motives stem from a desire to truly help Alexander reach his potential or to prove to her co-workers, and herself, that she was right in selecting him. The answer never really becomes clear.

The second collaboration between co-screenwriter Daphne Charizani and writer/director Ina Weisse following 2008’s well-received The Architect, The Audition is kind of like a fajita, serving various items to the audience who then have to piece everything together. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing–I don’t enjoy stories that condensed or spoon-feed you every plot point. That said, if this is the storytelling recipe that’s being followed, the creators must be sure to provide enough complementary fixings that will come together in a satisfying bite. The Audition seems to be missing some ingredients.

The film hints at Anna’s arduous relationship with her father, which may be affecting how she relates to her own son, but it’s an avenue that’s never explored. She begrudges Phillipe’s new career but we aren’t sure why. She sees talent in Alexander, who is barely a realized character, but it’s not made clear to us just what she sees. Powerhouse German actress Nina Hoss shows a great intensity in her performance but without more insight, it’s difficult to get emotionally invested in her. And so, when a shocking turn of events wraps up the film, it doesn’t seem fully earned.

The drama and musical pieces, especially by Monti, are first-rate, but The Audition’s overall piecemeal structure and languid character development hold it back from achieving any higher ground.

Buy or Rent The Audition

About Janine

Janine is a dedicated fan of the 1940 film Kitty Foyle, directed by Sam Wood, written by Dalton Trumbo and starring Ginger Rogers, who won an Oscar for her portrayal. And seeing that film is all it took to make her a lifelong movie lover. Janine is excited to add her insights to the great team at DishDisc.com.