In this pretty but unconvincing film set in the 1930s, a young violinist from Poland washes up on a beach in Cornwall. Two aging sisters, played by the Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, take him in and nurse him back to health. One of them, Ursula (Dench, with a gorgeous suntan), slowly becomes besotted with the boy, even as his huge musical talent becomes apparent.
Then, a bohemian named Olga (Natascha McElhone), whose brother is a violin maestro, whisks him away from the town and toward a musical career, leaving Ursula bereft.
For all the shots of pretty cliffs and ocean, gorgeous violin music (provided by Joshua Bell), and always-great acting by Smith and Dench, this film never really establishes emotional stakes. The Polish violinist Andrea, played by Daniel Bruhl, does look like a less cheesy Ashton Kutcher, and he has a mischievous charm. But the language barrier means that it’s hard to understand how there could be any kind of real relationship between him and the sisters. The film succeeds most at building up a sense of foreboding about the pending Second World War, and providing glimpses of daily life in a small town in Britain between the wars.
Opens April 29