Nina Hoss is magnetic as a violin tutor whose disappointment with life and her perfectionism proves a combustible combination for a new student.
Anna Brodsky (Hoss) has long given up concert performances, seemingly content to teach talented young violinists within the competitive environment of a music college. Her son Jonas (Serafin Mishiev) is learning violin but she seems uninspired by his progress, while her relationship with her instrument maker husband (Simon Abkarian) is affectionate if less than passionate. But the audition of Alexander Paraskevas (Ilja Monti) strikes a chord with Anna and she sees in the young man the possibility of success that she never attained. But how far can Anna’s desire for perfection push Alexander before he is crushed by the weight of her expectations?
Ina Weisse’s superb psychological drama never plays a wrong note as it details Anna’s increasingly fraught relationship with her young student, her family and colleagues. Both she and Hoss are gifted musicians, which gives the film a level of authenticity missing from many dramas about musical performance. Although comparisons could be made to Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher, The Audition works in a very different register. It avoids that film’s viscerality in favour of a more sensuous exploration of obsession. And it’s here that Hoss comes into her own. For a long time the lead in Christian Petzold’s films (Yella, Barbara, Phoenix), Hoss here imbues Anna with an emotional turbulence that keeps us guessing as to her every move.