The Music Lovers - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Music Lovers Reviews

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May 21, 2015
Directed and acted in what feels like a pitch of fever, this is an overwrought but effective film.
June 28, 2014
If you are unfamiliar with Ken Russell, you maybe a bit shocked by the over-the-top approach taken in the tragic telling of Tchaikovsky and Antonia Milyukova -- but this is actually a restrained Ken Russell. And, Glenda Jackson is brilliant. Beautifully filmed and truly passionate filmmaking. A bit unbridled, but worth it.
½ January 20, 2014
Epic and lyrical, yet over-embellished and vulgar.
Tho well acted, w big emotions and given an immensely operatic treatment of Composer Tchaikovsky's life, this film enjoys and suffers the indulgences of director Ken Russell's handling.
I loved the lyricism and the flourishes of what are brilliant, classical music videos of the composers sweeping music.

The harrowing, disturbing displays of his life and relationships seem rather overblown here compared to the traditionally known, otherwise quiet gentleman who suffered his demons more likely internally.

Personally, I'd love to see my rather uneventful, ordinary life given the Ken Russell treatment just to see the emotionally blazing, caricature results...
Hahahahaha

As a movie: 3.5 of 5
As a biography: 1.5 of 5

My score overall: 2.5 of 5
½ November 18, 2013
Often criticized for being an exaggerated and somewhat inaccurate bio of Tchaikovsky, the criticism seems to largely miss the point. Russell is striving for an emotional truth and he absolutely nails it. Russell had a deep understanding of music, and his musician biopics seem to be driven more by the music and the emotions they reveal about the composers than a dry regurgitation of facts. The scenes set to music in this film are extraordinary ... some of the best I have ever seen.
½ May 11, 2013
Holy erotic dream sequences batman!
½ April 29, 2013
Between a 6/10 and 7/10, this Ken Russell fantasia-musical biography as wet dream-hangs together more successfully than his other similar efforts, thanks largely to a powerhouse performance by Glenda Jackson, one actress who can hold her own against Russell's excess.
September 6, 2012
The great Ken Russell serves up another biopic of one of the great composers, this time, it's about Tchaikovsky (played by Richard Chamberlain), who once had a homosexual relationship with Count Anton Chiluvsky (Christopher Gable), but ended up marrying Antonina Milyukova (Glenda Jackson), the marriage becomes the cause of a creative block for Tchaikovsky, and it drives him and his wife to madness. Described by our Ken as "The story of the marriage between a homosexual and a nymphomaniac", he delivers style, visual beauty and good performances in an abundance. With a good script by Melvyn Bragg, (yes, that one), and beautiful cinematography by the great Douglas Slocombe. It's got imagery typical of Russell, (such as Jackson getting felt up by asylum inmates through a grate), but it brings out the best in Tchaikovsky's music.

he great Ken Russell was at the time of this film hot of Women In Love, and he got a 3 picture deal at United Artists as well. Here, he serves up another biopic of one of the great composers, but he's done it with his own, inimitable flair, and it's a shade of the excessive nature and over the top visuals that were soon to come in all of his films, but it's beautiful to look at. It's about Tchaikovsky (Richard Chamberlain), who once had a homosexual relationship with Count Anton Chiluvsky (Christopher Gable), and he struggled to get his music recognised and appreciated. Despite the relationship he had with Anton, Tchaikovsky ended up marrying Antonina Milyukova (Glenda Jackson), who is a nebbish, neurotic woman who likes to have a good time in the bedroom. The marriage becomes the cause of a creative block for Tchaikovsky, and it drives him and his wife to madness, Tchaikovsky has been tormented for years by the death of his mother because of cholera, but it soon leads to one of his greatest compositions, the 1812 Overture, and how it soon made him one of the best composers of his time.. Described by Ken as "The story of the marriage between a homosexual and a nymphomaniac", he delivers style, visual beauty and good performances in an abundance. With a good script by Melvyn Bragg and beautiful cinematography by the great Douglas Slocombe. It's got imagery typical of Russell, (such as Jackson getting felt up by asylum inmates through a grate), but it brings out the best in Tchaikovsky's music.
July 9, 2012
Don't watch this to learn anything about Tchaikovsky, since most of it is quite a bit inaccurate. But watch it for its exercise in flamboyancy, it's stunning visuals, and its music.
April 5, 2012
Ken Russell takes a little more than just poetic licence here. He uses the unsubstantiated evidence of Tchaikovsky's closeted homosexuality, and fractured relationship with his nymphomaniac lover, Nina, as the basis for his film. But this gives him the chance to let loose in typical Russell flamboyant fashion, using the internal struggles of the characters to mirror the ecstasy of Tchaikovsky's music. This is not a biopic. This is Ken's love of classical music to compliment his vibrant imagery to such grandiose and baroque effect. A film that is driven by music.
You won't learn anything about Tchaikovsky from this, but you'll learn lot more about Ken as a filmmaker.
March 28, 2012
Ken Russell takes a little more than just poetic licence here. He uses the unsubstantiated evidence of Tchaikovsky's closeted homosexuality, and fractured relationship with his nymphomaniac lover, Nina, as the basis for his film. But this gives him the chance to let loose in typical Russell flamboyant fashion, using the internal struggles of the characters to mirror the ecstasy of Tchaikovsky's music. This is not a biopic. This is Ken's love of classical music to compliment his vibrant imagery to such grandiose and baroque effect. A film that is driven by music.
You won't learn anything about Tchaikovsky from this, but you'll learn lot more about Ken as a filmmaker.
December 12, 2011
Wonderful film and score about the life of Tchaikovsky. Filled with great scenes of anguish and Richard Chamberlain portrays the sexually tormented composer really well. Also fantastic is Glenda Jackson as the tragic Nina.
Super Reviewer
December 8, 2011
Two quotes, two different films from 1971, the same critic: Alexander Walker, late of the London Evening Standard. 1) "I think it's a great film; I think it's one of the most important films ever made in this country." 2) "It looked like the masturbation fantasies of a Roman Catholic boyhood." The films in question? Respectively, Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange and Ken Russell's The Devils. Now, as far as the quotes go, I completely disagree with the first and broadly concur with the second, with the proviso that "masturbation fantasies" need not inherently be devoid of artistic merit, as Walker implies. What on Earth has this to do with The Music Lovers? Don't worry, I'm getting to it...

What I believe these quotes demonstrate very well is the critical snobbery and hypocrisy which dogged Ken Russell throughout his career. If you watch Dance of the Seven Veils, the biopic of Richard Strauss which brought Russell's dazzling tenure at the BBC to a controversial close in 1970, you will not fail to notice a reference to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. What I would argue is that, with A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick returned the compliment. With its army of grotesques, its leering, hallucinatory camerawork, the overarching campness of the whole production and - most tellingly - with its ultraviolence set to classical music, A Clockwork Orange resembles nothing so much as Ken Russell-lite. I simply cannot believe that Russell's work had no direct influence on Kubrick's movie - I will even stick my neck out and say that Russell in his prime would have made a better fist of it - so for Alexander Walker to dismiss Russell's oeuvre as garbage and embrace its progeny as a masterpiece is film criticism at its most maddeningly disingenuous.

While The Music Lovers, Russell's biography of Tchaikovsky, certainly does not represent this director at the height of his powers, it's nowhere near as terrible as the detractors would have you believe. The film contains flashes of brilliance, some stunning visual coups and, amidst all the vulgarity and excess, one or two lovely quiet moments. My favourite scene is probably the one in which Tchaikovsky (Richard Chamberlain), his wife Nina (Glenda Jackson) and his jilted lover, the Count Chiluvsky (Christopher Gable), watch a performance of Swan Lake and the Count wistfully summarises the plot of the ballet for the benefit of his oblivious rival. For the best of Russell on the big screen, check out Women in Love, The Devils, The Boy Friend, Savage Messiah and Mahler. God Bless you, Ken, for dragging British cinema out of the Kitchen Sink.
December 7, 2011
Not sure I would like this if it weren't for all the Tchaikovsky music.
October 25, 2011
Another crazy Russell film. I loved it of course.
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
½ March 29, 2011
Florid and excessive which is standard for Russell's films. The music of course is brilliant.
March 25, 2011
Very pleasantly surprised at how well Ken Russell's crazy style mixes with Tchaikovsky's music and bio. Wildly entertaining.
February 24, 2011
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½ January 8, 2011
Disappointing. Surprisingly more coherent than Mahler but I wonder if that's its biggest shortcoming.. The last 15 minutes are glorious but I just didn't feel it for most of it.
November 20, 2010
A visionary psycho-biopic about Russian composer Piotr Ciajkovskij. Probably the best film by Ken Russell, one of the most interesting authors of the '70s.
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