What Really Matters

God Of The Piano 
Stars: Naama Preis, Andy Levi, Shimon Animran, and Ze'ev Shimshoni
Director/ Scriptwriter: Itay Tal
Composers: Roie Shpigler, Hillel Teplitzki and Eran Zvirin
Cinematography: Meidan Arama
Film Republic
Language: Hebrew (Subtitles)
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 80 Minutes 

Talent can come in many forms, from sports to visual art to literary performance.  “God of the Piano” gives us the story of a family immersed in music--piano music--and this legacy is passed down through the family. Talent is rated highly and you had better be on your toes from childhood on to win approval in this family.  Reference: as in sports, the coaching of a baseball pitcher or a football quarterback or, in the arts, a ballet dancer. 

This particular piano family goes beyond coaching and wanders into the realm of discipline and little approval. Nothing else really matters. We now visit the world of Anat (well done by Naama Pries) who is a pianist, her father is part of a prestigious music school, her uncle is also in music, and their world starts to revolve around the next generation. Anat is married and pregnant. 

The first few minutes of this film are startling, from a woman giving a concert performance in the last stages of pregnancy, and finding her water breaking during the performance. A rush to the hospital, with the men in the front seat discussing music while Anat suffers in the back seat. Another blow at the hospital when it is discovered that their first child, a son, is deaf. All this in a few minutes. Where does the director/scriptwriter Itay Tal take us now? What happens next is straight out of a soap opera, but it works here and continues through the years as Anat keeps a secret, and the talent of this child is revealed. 

The social stigma of being deaf is something a deaf child sees on an every-day basis and it can be disheartening. Teaching music to a child who is deaf is possible and gives the child the opportunity to learn a skill to participate with other children and later, as an adult. Determining the precise amount of hearing loss, in what frequency is the loss, having a sense of rhythm and sign language are used. In “God of the Piano,” none of the above are considered. The surroundings of the mother and their social ambitions take forefront over the child. The little boy is never given a chance. 

“God of the Piano” is Naama Pries’ film, as she takes the character of Anat and gives it a steel back bone and integrity that may be questionable. Her body language speaks volumes. Anat’s father shows little emotion, too, but when he does, it is in his eyes.  Idan (Andy Levi), is then an almost-teenager, showing frustration at practicing without companionship of his age. In the background, as a comfort for the audience, is the beautiful music by composers Shpigler, Teplitzki and Zvirin.  

The choices one makes to further ambition are not always from ambition, itself, but from fear of failure. This is something Anat has lived with, and though she performs little now, she is determined the son will be a masterpiece of her making.  Fear can be lived with, but it takes its toll, and dwells within this family whose life of music carries fear with it. 


Copyright 2020 Marie Asner