Henry is a classical composer and holocaust survivor, he is encouraged to start writing again by Stefan, a young musicologist. To help him he hires a secretary Anette, who is reluctantly accepted by Henry's wife Helena.
Max von Sydow's brilliantly observed performance as a world famous composer-turned-cantankerous old git not only picked up the Best Actor gong at the Tokyo Film Festival but also prevents this particularly sickly Euro-pudding from going down like last year's fruitcake.
Bergman favourite Von Sydow is the sick old man of notes Henry Kesdi, crashing about drunkenly, warding off admiring fans and unscrupulous music publishers, and taking pot shots at Stefan (Bluteau), a young Polish musicologist who is haunted by a melody he is convinced is Kesdi's unfinished work.
Stefan is determined to put the former maestro back to work after a 40-year absence, even if it means breaking into his home first. This he does much to the surprise of Kesdi's long-suffering wife (Miles) transforming the senile incontinent into a benevolent genius almost overnight with the help of his saccharine platitudes, a pretty musical secretary (Grabol) and, most importantly, his healing, silent touch.
Unfortunately, a great score, Von Sydow's performance and a number of delightful moments do not compensate for the ludicrous plot which fails to fully engage the imagination as drama nor break through as the comedy it purports to be