Mixed or average reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 20
  2. Negative: 2 out of 20
  1. 80
    Copying Beethoven has an ace up its sleeve: the wonder and drama of the Ninth Symphony itself (heard here in Bernard Haitink's tremendous 1996 recording with the Royal Concertgebouw).
  2. Topped with that messy salt-and-pepper wig that frames and obscures his scowling, searching face, [Harris] invests Beethoven with a violent turbulence that sometimes floods the room but mostly stays coiled inside, where it seethes.
  3. The movie is completely beguiling, and it delivers joy, the beautiful spark of the gods.
  4. Copying Beethoven, at its best, is a sort of grand cinema opera of the composer's life and music.
  5. Has one knockout sequence: the deaf maestro conducting his Ninth Symphony as Anna coaches from the wings. It goes on for what seems a whole reel, but it's so sublime it seems too short and, by itself, could stand as one of the greatest classic music videos ever.
  6. Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa, The Secret Garden) directs with obvious feeling rather than cynicism, and I was swept away by it despite the story's anachronisms.
  7. There are two reasons to see - and hear - Agnieszka Holland's Copying Beethoven. One is Ed Harris' performance as the nearly deaf and totally egocentric Ludwig van; the other is a cherry-picked 10-minute chunk of the composer's soaring Ninth Symphony.
  8. 63
    Like an old college wrestler, Harris saunters through this toasty little piece of biographical fiction in love with the part's fixins'.
  9. 63
    This is one of those middle-of-the-road art pictures that will impress some music lovers and attract a small audience, but won't really excite anyone. Copying Beethoven does not do for its title composer what Amadeus did for Mozart, and that's a shame.
  10. Reviewed by: Luke Y. Thompson
    Screenwriters Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson, best known for the two ponderous biopics "Ali" and "Nixon," deliver a film awkwardly composed.
  11. Shot by Ashley Rowe to look like a cross between a Vermeer retrospective and a music video, Copying Beethoven is silly and misguided, if reasonably entertaining for its charming lack of self-awareness, its weakness for lines like "Loneliness is my religion!" and its transcendently beautiful music.
  12. We are left finally with a double response: it is hard to know exactly why the film was made, what its emotional and thematic point is, yet we are glad it happened because of Harris's performance.
  13. The picture never successfully comes off the written page.
  14. Harris' impressive channeling of Ludwig is diluted by the decision of screenwriters Stephen Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson to put the copyist front and center, possibly to distinguish their feature from "Immortal Beloved."
  15. 50
    More music and less melodrama would serve audiences better.
  16. Reviewed by: James C. Taylor
    One is left yearning for the overheated melodrama of Bernard Rose's 1994 Beethoven biopic, "Immortal Beloved," which was trashy, but fun.
  17. Reviewed by: Leslie Felperin
    Helmer Agnieszka Holland's Copying Beethoven joins 1994's "Immortal Beloved" in the ranks of mediocre dramatic interpretations of Beethoven's biography.
  18. 50
    Aspires to the sublime, but it stalls at the merely ridiculous.
  19. 38
    Harris can be a brilliant actor, and there are flashes of that here. But he's done in by a script that lacks any subtlety.
  20. Holland's empurpled bio-fantasy is hooey with an anachronistic feminist slant from start to finish.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 22 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 14
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 14
  3. Negative: 3 out of 14
  1. Jun 23, 2013
    Sheer pleasure watching films about Beethoven and this is no different. The Anna Holz character was a complete balance to the fiery master. Eccentric he may have been but in the film he uttered some really beautiful words about God. I always believed that geniuses like Beethoven were a channel for the hands of God. I love watching conductors and the Ninth Symphony sequence in the film was such a pleasure to watch, beautifully produced especially Kruger's acting helping the master. Full Review »
  2. PaulW.
    Jan 28, 2008
    Firmly set in the 21st century, with no period feel whatsoever. Beethoven was TOTALLY deaf for the last 15 years of his life, yet here he hears when it suits the script writers. Typical well-meaning American schmalz. Full Review »
  3. MichaelE
    Jan 23, 2008
    Captures the essence of Beethoven along with a stirring performance of his ninth symphony.