Wednesday 17 October 2018

Making The Grade documentary film review: 'This is truly life-affirming filmmaking'

5 stars

A young piano student in Ken Wardrop's life-affirming documentary
A young piano student in Ken Wardrop's life-affirming documentary

Hilary A White

Director Ken Wardrop bounded on to the feature documentary scene in 2009 with His & Hers, a nicely captured and charm-heavy portrait of the Irish female in all her various forms.

With little more than gentle observation and a gas collection of real-life subjects, it reduced even the stoniest of hearts to a melted-fudge consistency.

Shared DNA is obvious in Wardrop's first feature outing since 2015's Mom & Me. But something richer and more pronounced is happening in this deliriously gorgeous confection that delves into the relationship between piano teachers and their students across Ireland.

So much colour. From a tiny lad crowing about his first ever lesson to a jaded death-metaller looking for renewal, and every size and shape of hopeful (and one or two hopelesses) in between. Patient tutors, pushy parents, eye-rolling teens and those who just play to endure the hand life has dealt them.

Wardrop gets out of the way and lets this dazzling cast show their bass lines and top notes. While one or two scenes may be viewed through teary vision, there are also the kind of belly-laughs that just can't be written.

This is truly life-affirming filmmaking. The world is so full of ugliness and unhappiness these days - we need storytellers like Wardrop to show us what our radars might not be picking up. By the time the credits roll, you will believe that music and human relationships are the most important things in our lives, with cinema a close runner-up.

Cert: G; Now showing

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