With her methods, her perspectives, and even some of her mysteries laid out before us, the film cuts abruptly — almost shockingly — to one of her rehearsals, as she sheds her calculating demeanor. Gunadttir’s booming (and appropriately cello-heavy) score replaces the soundtrack’s preceding eerie calm. A sudden warmth from cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister contrasts the first hour’s icy chill. Most vitally, we’re thrown headfirst into scenes of Lydia in her element (and Blanchett in hers), delivering a full-bodied commitment to sounds that resonate perfectly, and powerfully, off the auditorium walls. As she stops and restarts performances, she instructs her musicians in German; she speaks it elsewhere in the movie too each time with English subtitles, but during rehearsal scenes, the words are never captioned. It doesn’t matter. For those who don’t understand the language, she communicates with her winding posture, her waving arms, her expressive longing, as she tinkers and tries to draw out specific emotion from the music around her, which she can’t quite put into words.
As her family takes the stage, we see a man perched in seventh row of the theater where the pros gather: a doctor, a mainstay of her family. He’s observing and recording her play performance, only to tell us later that he found his own accident weeks later.
More cellos join in until all that’s left are first and second chair violins. And like Blanchett’s alien elemental presence, they’re dressed in national colors and their feet don’t touch the ground.
Removing her concert attire, absently and preoccupied as she speaks softly to Blanchett, a flute player emerges from the green room. Wearing a white turtleneck, its end tied in a bow, she’s dressed for a fair — and she knows it. Her blond hair is tied back in a tight bun, and she’s carrying a labeled flute. d2c66b5586