Rating: R for adult situations
Run Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
The romantically tragic life of libertine Alma Mahler gets the sentimental treatment in this melodramatic valentine to outspoken feminism.
Newcomer Sarah Wynter is Alma, a brilliant, fiercely independent creature who inspired the passions of Europe’s greatest artists. Groundbreaking symphonies, innovative structures, and artistic masterpieces were all fueled by the force of Alma’s limitless spirit. Although creative geniuses, the men in Alma’s life weren’t any picnic. Jealous, temperamental, and possessive, they stifled Alma’s ambitious by choking her with love.
As a young woman in turn of the century Vienna, Alma meets and falls in love with Gustav Mahler (Jonathan Pryce), the emotionally tumultuous conductor and composer whose work would posthumously make him a classical music legend. The death of the Mahlers’ eldest daughter sends the morose Alma to a health sanatorium, where she meets and falls in love with famed architect Walter Gropius. The affair is revealed, but Alma feels duty-bound to stick with Mahler. Feeling neglected during Mahler’s lifetime and bereft at his death, Alma nonetheless falls into a passionate tryst with another emotional basket-case, the jealous, eccentric painter Oskar Kokoschka (Vincent Perez).
So many men, so little time to be yourself. Flitting from lover to lover, genius to genius, Alma is unable to find what she is truly seeking: the freedom to express her inner artist. Wynter looks the part of a physical beauty, but stumbles under the burden of two-hours of focused, exaggerated emotion, ultimately struggling to convey the range of emotion necessary to withstand the testosterone-heavy onslaught. The men in question are boorish and self-centered, all the while proclaiming undying love for their ethereal muse. The real star here is the music, some of Mahler’s most haunting, woven into a lovely background track that supports the senses when the action fails.