Interlude in Prague
by Toby Woollaston
With all its pomp, ceremony, feathers and wigs, Interlude in Prague encourages movie poster quoting descriptors such as “lavish”, “exquisite” or “sumptuous”. Indeed the classical period, in which this tale is set, is an era that cinema has shown its fair share of adoration for. Visually, Interlude in Prague comfortably slips into cinema’s favourite feathery slippers and delivers a film that is utterly gorgeous to look at. However, no amount of “lavish” production design, “exquisite” costumes, or “sumptuous” cinematography (all of which are valid here) can hide this film’s shortcomings.
Director and co-writer John Stephenson has examined the period when Mozart was to compose Don Giovanni. I’m no historian, nor a Mozart fanboy, but a quick google reveals his time in Prague did seem to have a significant influence on the famed opera. But beyond that, Interlude in Prague seems comprised of half-truths, unrelated rumours of infidelity and other bits and bobs. It’s a potpourri of questionable facts that are lavishly fleshed out with more gratuitous embellishments than Trump’s twitter account; the result is an inventive fantasy about how Mozart’s famous opera might have been inspired.
Zuzanna Lubtak (admirably played by Morfydd Clark), a delicate young soprano in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, is to be betrothed to the evil Baron Saloka (James Purefoy); a womanising predator who makes Weinstein look like a choir boy. Purefoy’s portrayal of the Baron shows fleeting moments of pure malice but for the most part, his character comes across as over-drawn and laughable. Enter Mozart (again, played admirably by Aneurin Barnard) to right the wrongs … oh, and fall in love with Zuzanna in the process.
If this all sounds a smidge camp, then you’re not too far from the full symphony. From the odd mixture of accents to the stilted and episodic story-telling, Interlude in Prague constantly threatens to descend into parody. Thankfully, it never does. Which is a relief, because the aforementioned poster quoting descriptors, along with some of the burgeoning acting talent makes Interlude in Prague juuuuust worth sitting through.
See my reviews for the NZ Herald here and for Witchdoctor here.