The Sonata (2020) Review

The Sonata marks one of the last performances from Rutger Hauer, who died last July at the age of 75. In this movie, he plays Richard Marlowe, a famous classical composer-turn-recluse living in solitude somewhere in the French countryside.

But he’s hardly a lead actor here. Not even carrying a supporting role either but more of a cameo appearance, even though his role happens to be an integral part of the movie. We learn that Richard mysteriously died soon after and his only daughter, Rose (Freya Tingley) — who hardly knows much about him — becomes a sole heir of his late father’s manor and every of his musical work.

Rose, who is an up-and-coming concert violinist, also discovers his father has left her his final work in the form of a violin sonata. She chooses to leave her busy schedule behind and take a break to travel to France to visit his late father’s manor.

From there, she finds out more about the sonata as well as his late father’s dark secret with the help of her agent/manager Charles (Simon Abkarian).

The late Rutger Hauer in one of his last performances in "The Sonata".

Relative newcomer Andrew Desmond, who both co-wrote and directed the movie, proves himself to be quite a visual stylist. This can be evidently seen during the earlier POV sequence, which is reminiscent of a first-person gothic-horror video game.

Then, there’s the production design along with Janis Eglitis’ atmospheric cinematography that captures the moody aesthetics of a classic Hammer film-style. Alexis Maingaud’s score equally deserves mention as well.

And yet, The Sonata feels pretty much like a missed opportunity. The movie may have been blessed with good production values but the script — credited to Desmond and Arthur Morin — is shockingly dull and lethargic. Here, Desmond spends too much time on the deliberately-paced build-up — a familiar narrative approach found in most horror-film tropes that would be well-earned and justifiable if there’s a satisfying payoff at the end.

Too bad this isn’t the movie, with the build-up itself lacking enough intrigue and suspense. It doesn’t evoke much of a scare either (except for one effective jump scare) and by the time the payoff does arrive, The Sonata falls flat. The kind that would make you go “that’s it?

The cast including Freya Tingley and Simon Abkarian deliver adequate performances while the late Rutger Hauer’s cameo appearance doesn’t leave much of an impression.