[NOTE: I wrote this review for publication, but it wasn’t able to run. I still wanted to share it, though, because this movie was lovely. Enjoy!]
Ethan Hawke was having a crisis. The kind that keeps you up at night, tossing and turning, even when you’re a fancy-pants Hollywood type with four Oscar nominations to your name. He was starting to wonder what the meaning of his acting career was, and that struggle translated itself into crippling stage fright.
Then he went to a friend’s New York dinner party and found himself seated next to Seymour Bernstein. The octogenarian was a pianist, not an actor, but his words of wisdom about art and purpose made an indelible impression—so indelible, in fact, that Hawke decided to make a movie about the guy.
Seymour: An Introduction is a minute, loving portrait of Bernstein, the type of New York aesthete who’s unfamiliar to the larger world but a legend in the classical-music realm. Despite its title, Seymour has no relation to the J.D. Salinger novella of the same name—except the fact that, like the famously reclusive author, Bernstein has made it his business to dodge the spotlight. The master pianist turned his back on a promising performing career decades ago, instead devoting his life to teaching others to play the instrument.