Review: Piano Practice

Directed by Maria Anastassiou, a portrait of the filmmaker’s mother at home in Nicosia. Now retired, she devotes herself to learning new skills including drawing, playing piano, painting Greek Orthodox icons and taking university classes in history and ancient Greek mythology.

There’s a strong atmosphere of sentimentality, through the directorial style and pastel heavy colour palette. It has the personal edge of a home movie mixed with an observer’s eye. It focuses on the details, moving around the room from hobby to hobby creating a sense of curiosity that’s almost childlike. It almost has an impression of being an experiment for the filmmaker, comparable to Alice Rohrwacher’s Four Roads. Picking up a camera and testing out different angles, no overt structure or formula to stick to.

It does feel at times to be skipping around too much, lacking a touch of context to weave things together more succinctly. There’s a humble, earnest air to Piano Practice, it feels simple and honest, it doesn’t need layers or subtext. It’s a lovely thing to see someone in the later years of life with still an eagerness to learn and improve yourself. It adds a cheerful edge to the film, a lightness to mix with its openness.

Piano Practice is a sweet, sentimental film, exploring the joys of learning which have no age limit. It could potentially use more context on who the mother is as a person to leave a more lasting impression but it’s well shot, with a great use of colour. It has a humble and happy atmosphere, one that’s easy to enjoy.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½

Reviewed as part of Open City Documentary Festival

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