Crushed after the death of his wife, stern viola virtuoso M. de St. Colombe (Marielle) reclusively keeps to his garden retreat, leading a monastic life devoted to his music, and training his two daughters Madeleine and Toinette (Brochet and Richert) in his delicate art. Incredibly, the master even turns down an invitation to play at the court of Louis XIV. Enter one Marin Marais (played by Depardieu in adulthood, and as a youth by real-life son Guillaume), who boldly asks St. Colombe to train him. For Marin, a romance with Madeleine offers only faint distraction from the serious task at hand; but over time, the young man is wooed and corrupted by the lavish comforts of the King's court — the very venue his teacher had rejected.
Corneau's sublime meditation on music as all-consuming force is exquisitely realized, with outstanding set and costume design and jaw-dropping cinematography. Depardieu père et fils both excel as Marais, but veteran player Marielle steals the show as St. Colombe, the forbidding, tortured musical genius, who still experiences visions of his departed wife years after her death. Don't miss this ravishing ode to the pain of lost love and the solace of music, a visual and aural feast you're bound to digest with pleasure.