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Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements

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Director Irene Taylor Brodsky once again turns the camera on her deaf parents and, now, her 11-year-old deaf son Jonas, who has cochlear implants and is discovering a profound world of hearing and music. As Jonas learns the first movement of Beethoven's iconic sonata on the piano, his grandparents, deaf for nearly 80 years, watch with deepening awe what time and technology have bestowed their grandson. But when Jonas struggles with the sound of his mistakes, Beethoven's own musical journey comes to life in an animated world of watercolor and haunting soundscapes. As the great composer loses the sense that brought him so much music and fame, Jonas's grandfather Paul loses his grasp on his mind. Their lives weave a sonata over three centuries, about all we can discover once we push beyond what has been lost.

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Sep 13, 2019

The documentary plays like a home movie that snowballed, causing its maker to overestimate her subject's relevance to the outside world. Though parts of it will certainly resonate within the deaf community (assuming it is made available with closed captioning), the film has little of the philosophical appeal of other documentaries on this topic, and sometimes seems willfully solipsistic.

Metacritic review by John DeFore
John DeFore
The Hollywood Reporter
Sep 13, 2019

It isn’t until deep into “Moonlight Sonata” that you start to realize how many patterns Brodsky has woven into the fabric of this tale.

Metacritic review by Matt Zoller Seitz
Matt Zoller Seitz
Sep 12, 2019

It’s a meditative movie, as one underscored with Beethoven’s solo piano pieces “Moonlight Sonata” and “Für Elise” would have to be. Brodsky isn’t the first to get across what it feels like to experience the world without hearing it, so she doesn’t dwell on that, even if it is her central thesis.

Metacritic review by Roger Moore
Roger Moore
Movie Nation