This was pretty good actually. I didn't like the ending. It put me off for some reason. Richard Dreyfus is a good actor and handled his character very well. He's a down and out guy who has very little to no support from his struggling family in pursuit of his music genius on the piano. He has entered several competitions and is a serious contender. But he has missed the money reward and scholarships in past competitions, and he REALLY needs a break in order to go to the conservatory. If he can do that, he'll pull himself up and out of the poverty his parents have had to endure. He has talent, but does he have enough?
There are some amazing piano players he's up against but he's a formidable competitor and they all know it; none more so than Amy Irving, a brilliant young pianist who comes from a well-to-do family and whose mother (the beautiful, but in this movie, unlikable, Lee Remick) and grandparents were major pianists. The over-bearing mother won't have her be anything BUT a pianist and she has no choice. This pushes Amy further and further away from the piano and the competition. She falls in love with Richard and is rooting for him to win. She wants him to win more than her mother wants her to win. And so goes the movie. The struggle of Richard against a father who wants him to stop "playing around" when he should be out at some two-bit job helping with family finances pitted against a girl who wants to do anything BUT play the piano professionally who is fighting against her domineering mother is the core and heartache of this movie. In the end, Richard, after realizing that Amy may be better than him in the competition, has to deal with that just before going on stage to deliver his composition. I loved the movie but was bummed at the end. Amy Irving is lovely as always, but her acting is wooden and one dimensional. Every movie I've seen her in, I enjoy, but it's just watching Amy with different set designs and wardrobes. Nothing about her ever changes. Even her expression seems to show little emotion. The movie pretty much has to fit HER, rather than her using acting skills to fit the movie. She fits this movie okay---but just okay. She doesn't have the moody or sometimes fiery or colorful personality you expect from musicians. She's pretty flat, borderline boring, in that regard, even when playing her piano pieces dramatically; she just isn't capable of carrying off the intensity to the degree needed and it leaves me unfulfilled. Richard was so great I kept this at 5 stars. I was tempted to knock it down to a 4, maybe even 3, because of Amy, but the story is so good, I want others to watch it.