“Mozart & the Whale”


By Jae-Ha Kim
November 25, 2006

This quirky, low-key romantic drama delves into the lives of a group of misfits intent of fitting into a world that views them as strange, demented, and (at times) retarded. A fictionalized account of a real-life couple with Asperger’s Syndrome–a disorder characterized by repetitive behavior patterns and impairments in social situations–Mozart & the Whale follows the lives of shy Donald (Josh Harnett) and outgoing Isabelle (Radha Mitchell).

Donald is a mathematical genius who takes things literally. Isabelle is a stunning beauty whose inability to take minor suggestions causes her to run from one relationship after another. When the two begin dating, she is the aggressor, even cleaning his pig sty of an apartment. “You can’t disappoint me,” she tells Donald. “Because whatever you are is exactly what I want.”

The movie has some sweet moments, but doesn’t spend enough time delving into the challenges of being part of an Asperger’s couple. The problems that they have in their relationship (insecurity, commitment and communication problems) really aren’t that different from that of your “normal” couple.

Hartnett and Mitchell give convincing portrayals of a complicated pair, but the film’s lukewarm storyline ultimately isn’t as compelling as the stars’ acting abilities.


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