Although essentially a rather old-fashioned British pic, Madame Sousatzka is filled with pleasures, not the least of them being Shirley MacLaine’s effervescent performance.
Setting is London where middle-aged Mme Sousatzka, of Russian parentage but raised in New York, teaches piano to only the most gifted students. She insists her pupils not only learn to play, but also to live the kind of traditional cultured lifestyle which she herself does.
Her latest protege is a 15-year-old Indian youth, Manek (Navin Chowdhry) whose mother (Shabana Azmi) left Calcutta years before to get away from her husband.
Sousatzka lives in a crumbling house owned by old Lady Emily (Peggy Ashcroft). Besides Sousatzka, her tenants include a model and would-be pop singer (delightfully played by Twiggy) who looks much younger than she is; and a middle-aged gay osteopath (Geoffrey Bayldon).
Crucial, though, is the central relationship between MacLaine, who’s seldom been better than she is here, and the youngster, warmly played by Chowdry. All their scenes have great charm, with the piano playing effectively handled.