I’m the wrong person for this movie. I’m not wild about Mozart, and apart from These Are the Damned (1963), I’ve never understood the fuss over Joseph Losey as a filmmaker. Still, the idea of intelligently filmed opera has an inherent appeal, and there’s no denying that both the opera and the filmmaker are intelligent. And this version of the story of the notorious womanizer, who meets his end at the hands of a statue of a man he killed, is certainly a solid production—assuming you can get past the basic silliness of, say, a man singing at the top of his voice that he has to hide. Well, since Mozart viewed the work as more comic than serious, that’s perhaps reasonable.
The problem for anyone who isn’t that keen on the opera in the first place lies in Losey’s tendency to shoot the movie in long, fairly static or slowly gliding takes that seem frankly more reverent than exciting. If Losey was indeed jazzed about the material, he has an awfully restrained way of showing it. There are flashes of inspiration, but all too often the film relies on its pedigree and simply feels like canned theater with singers rooted to the spot in a tableau fashion. There are definitely pretty things to be seen, but I can’t imagine anyone who isn’t a fan of the opera being exactly entranced by the film.