Berlinale film explores opera director’s spiral into emotional turmoil

By Thomson Reuters Feb 22, 2024 | 10:56 AM

By Thomas Escritt

BERLIN (Reuters) – Having a child had a decisive impact on the career of actress Amanda Seyfried, the star of Berlinale film “Seven Veils”.

“Once I popped out a baby, I was just playing mothers,” she said ahead of Thursday’s international premiere of the film, in which she plays an opera director juggling motherhood, a failing relationship and imposing her will on a cast of divas.

“That’s Hollywood for you,” she said.

That typecasting, however, has exposed the star of “The Dropout” to a world of more nuanced and interesting female roles, she said, reflecting on an unexpected upside.

In Canadian director Atom Egoyan’s film, Seyfried’s character channels memories of her own childhood abuse and painful memories of her relationship with a past mentor to give shape to Richard Strauss’s violent and erotic opera “Salome” – throwing her into a maelstrom that threatens to overwhelm her.

“My body was tense for this very short but very challenging work,” Seyfried said of a film where the camera spends much of its time following her around in a way more reminiscent of a horror film than the recent host of music-centred films.

“It’s a story about this idea of desire and what happens when you don’t have something you need,” said Egoyan, who himself has directed opera including the production of “Salome” that features in the film.

The film is the latest after 2022’s “Tar” and 2023’s “Maestro”, respectively about a fictional and a real conductor, to explore the world of classical music. Egoyan said that reflected a revival of interest in classical music as a genre in a turbulent world.

“Especially at this time it’s amazing that human beings can do something together which is so beautiful,” said Egoyan. “I think a lot of younger people are actively connecting to the phenomenon of live classical music.”

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt, Editing by Rachel More, William Maclean)