|Richard Dreyfuss and Amy Irving in The Competition.|
The most significant distraction, though, is the presence of Heidi Joan Schoonover (Amy Irving). The talented and pretty pianist has harbored "an itch" for Paul since they met two years earlier. Paul tries to ignore her...but the attraction is definitely mutual.
I've been in the mood to revisit The Competition (1980) ever since I saw Amy Irving in Crossing Delancey (1988) last year. Thus, I was delighted when it appeared on cable recently. I think one's appreciation for the film hinges on the two leads and the lengthy musical passages.
|Heidi plays a Prokofiev composition.|
|Paul conducts the orchestra in one of|
the film's best scenes.
For some viewers, though, The Competition is all about the music. Lalo Schifrin, the composer who gave us the Mission: Impossible theme, does a remarkable job of condensing the classical works of Chopin, Brahms, and Beethoven. He also adds a memorable love theme (though I'm not especially fond of the lyrics sung over the closing credits). The song earned Schifrin and lyricist Will Jennings an Oscar nomination. (The film also received a nomination for editing.)
The Competition is not altogether successful in its attempt to combine romance with a portrait of an obsessive artist. Yet, if it misses the mark occasionally (I would have nixed the Russian defector subplot), it still holds one's attention with the performances, the music, and the lovingly-filmed San Francisco locales. One still wishes, though, that the whole movie could have been as good as the climatic scene between Heidi and Paul, in which the latter confesses with stark honesty that he never thought she could play better than him.