Madame Sousatzka (1988)

Madame Sousatzka




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Shirley MacLaine is Madame Sousatzka, an aging piano instructor of Russian extraction. Entrenched in a dilapidated London rooming house, the Madame gives lessons only to the most gifted. She does not stop at mere instruction; Sousatzka insists that her pupils conduct their lives in the same genteel, cultured manner in which she was raised. Her prize student at the moment is an East Indian teenage boy (Navin Chowdhry), who forms a strong and loving bond with the old woman. Director John … More

Rating: PG-13
Genre: Musical & Performing Arts, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Peter Morgan, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, John Schlesinger
In Theaters:
Universal Studios


as Madame Yuvline Sousa...

as Manek Sen

as Lady Emily

as Jenny

as Sushila

as Mr. Cordle

as Vincent Pick

as Leo Milev

as Woodford

as Edward

as Pianist at Portman H...

as Black Schoolgirl

as Sousatzka's Mother

as Menswear Salesman

as Piano Student

as Music Critic

as Lady with Removal Me...

as School Teacher

as 1st Punjabi Lady

as Street Youth

as Street Youth

as Receptionist

as Festival Mime Artist

as Festival Announcer
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Critic Reviews for Madame Sousatzka

All Critics (20) | Top Critics (7)

It's as affectionate, big-hearted and creaky as any film that ever graced Radio City Music Hall, with leisureliness and dime-store philosophizing to match.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

An extraordinary movie that loves music and loves the people it is about, and has the patience to do justice to both.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

As charming and fanciful as it is impossible to pigeonhole.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

An intimate and amusing adaptation of Bernice Rubens' novel.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Madame Sousatzka

A piano teacher and a prodigy's mother vie for the pupil's devotion.
In the canon of teacher films, this provides a new category, the pedagogy of self-abnegation. Madame Sausatzka has an unfortunate string of pupils who learn from her then leave her. During their instruction she uses the basic tough love methods that we've come to expect from films of this ilk, and like To Sir with Love, which is the ultimate tough-love educator film, she forms an emotional bond with her students. But when she's left, she feels emptier, like a jilted lover. The film doesn't condemn her teaching methods; in fact it celebrates them because she emerges as an educator-hero, one who has sacrificed for the greater good. I don't like the message, but I think it's interesting.
Shirley MacLaine gives a very good performance, an abrasive attitude mixed with an inner pain. Navin Chowdhry is also very good, giving one of the better performance I've seen from a child actor.
The film's plot unfolds slowly, and it isn't until late in the second act that its pedagogical philosophy becomes clear. I also had no idea what was going on with the house in which Sousatzka was entrenched; I got that it was condemned or something, but the specifics of the problem and its solution failed to be a compelling plotline. Also, the subplot between Manek and Jenny was poorly set up.
Overall, I didn't like a lot about how the film was structured, but its basic idea is quite interesting.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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