A movie review of “Seymour: An Introduction”: This intimate, big-hearted documentary, directed by Ethan Hawke, draws you into the world of Seymour Bernstein — pianist, composer, teacher, philosopher and ultimate New Yorker.
As its title suggests, “Seymour: An Introduction” doesn’t try to offer the final word on its subject, Seymour Bernstein, the pianist, composer, teacher, philosopher and ultimate New Yorker.
Instead, in 81 transporting minutes, this intimate, big-hearted documentary draws you so completely into his world that you feel as if you know all there is to know, even as questions linger.
And, if you gave up playing an instrument (oh, let’s say, the violin), you will surely regret that folly. Among the lessons, musical and otherwise, that Bernstein offers is that surrender isn’t an option. “The struggle is what makes the art form,” he says. “I had to go to war for my art form.”
‘Seymour: An Introduction,’ a documentary directed by Ethan Hawke. 81 minutes. Rated PG for some mild thematic elements. Guild 45th.
The New York Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.
What Bernstein reveals through both the example of his life and the many recollections and conversations threaded throughout this documentary, is that struggle — long, brutal, enervating, interminable — must have its due.
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That this is as much a movie about life as about art is clear from the first few minutes, as is the sense that the terms are inseparable for him.
Ethan Hawke, who directed and occasionally appears on camera, provides a generous amount of biographical details about his subject while omitting others.
There’s nothing about his love life in the movie, no questions about partners or whether he longed for children. If you don’t necessarily notice their absence it’s because there’s so much else here.