Just in

The Kreuzer Sonata (2008)

This film, an erotic, psychological thriller directed by Bernard Rose, was released in 2008 but I watched it for the first time last night.

It is based on the banned novel of Leo Tolstoy and in brief is about a man consumed with jealousy that his beautiful classical pianist wife is unfaithful.

The story is updated to contemporary California. An extremely wealthy philanthropist called Edgar Hudson (Danny Huston) is organising a Sierra Leone victim relief fund-raising event at which he decides to have a concert at which Lexi (Elizabeth Rohm) plays, with an orientalist violinist, Beethoven’s Kreuzer Sonata.  The sonata was dedicated originally to violinist Thomas                but he and Beethoven fell out in a tavern over a woman and Beethoven dedicated it to the leading biologist of the day Rodolphe Kreuzer who like Edgar Hudson detested the piece and never played it

After a courtship which is one steamy sexual encounter after another Danny decides to marry Lexi and they have two children.

The relationship loses its sexual impetus and they are soon arguing.

Whilst Lexi is a self-absorbed, difficult, woman there is no doubt that the breakdown is caused by Danny’s intense jealousy that Lexi is having an affaire, probably in his mind, with the violinist.

The backdrop is not just Beethoven’s Kreuzer Sonata – which Danny despises – but other well-known classical pieces by Claude Debussy and others.

I found the film well-acted and engaging.

It somehow caught the tone of laid-back California wealth – contrasted to the initial intensity of their coming together – and then the fatal jealousy.

It’s very much a Huston effort. Danny Huston’s half-sister Anjelica appears in a cameo role as his sister in the film and one of his daughters Stella too.

Danny Huston narrates the film so you feel the full force of his crazed personality.

The film was released in 2008 and much has changed in cinema since then.

With the Me-Too movement would the first steamy naked sex scenes be sanctioned?

In my view these were necessary to chart a relationship from its early sexual extravagance to its bitter conflict.

For example, in one scene Lexi is in the bathroom of their palatial home showering.

Danny is outside the bathroom tortured by some weird noises therein. It transpires that Lexi is masturbating against a wall and, in a rare moment of self-insight, Danny confesses that he thinks he owns her body but does not.

This – together with dinner party scenes – gave the film a French cinema quality and French directors do not practice restraint when it comes to sex.

The film’s denouement – unlike many a French film – certainly did not leave anything in the air.

Avatar photo
About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts