Accompanist, The: Claude Miller’s Suspenseful Melodrama Starring Romane Bohringer

Set during the Occupation of Paris in WWII, Claude Miller’s “The Accompanist” is an intimate, intelligent, elegantly shot suspenseful melodrama about the complex relationship between two women.

Protagonist is Sophie Vasseur (Romane Bohringer, daughter of famous Gallic actor Richard, who’s also in the film), a young, ambitious pianist who gets a job as accompanist for a famous singer Irene Brice (Elena Safonova). At first, it’s unclear whether the upscale lifestyle of Irene and her husband Charles (Richard Bohringer) is conditioned by their collaboration with the Nazis.

Embraced by the couple, Sophie first becomes an observer, then an intruder, then a potential accomplice, when she discovers that Irene has an illicit affair with a member of the Resistance. Who will she side with and for what reason

Miller maintains a level of suspense and for long stretches, “The Accompanist” works effectively as a psychological thriller and melodrama. You can see why some critics have compared the picture to “All About Eve,” suggesting that Miller changed the POV and dramatic center from the older woman’s character to the younger’s.

At 20, Sophie is forced to face dilemmas that interface intriguingly the personal, professional, political, and moral domain, and the young Romane more than meets the challenge, gives a strong performance that pulls you in from first frame to last.

It’s one of the few films to be released theatrically and find an audience by the gifted Claude Miller, who had served as assistant to Francois Truffaut and is obviously influenced by his mentor’s work.