Ethan Hawke’s “Seymour: An Introduction” is a documentary that comes from a pure place: he met someone he immediately admired and wanted others to meet him, too. Seymour Bernstein is a now-eighty-six-year-old pianist and music teacher who had offered Hawke pointers on how to tamp down stage fright. But after that first encounter, Hawke discovered an inveterate New Yorker who gave up a career to devote his life to others, to passing along his passion to music, and his simple kindness, to students for decades. The straightforward character of the brief eighty-one minutes of “Seymour” is one of its beauties and perhaps its greatest gift: a life’s wisdom, distilled, conveyed with charm, wit and bracing precision in an understated yet lucid voice. Hawke’s managed to capture the kindest, most no-bullshit guru you’d care to imagine. 81m. (Ray Pride)
“Seymour: An Introduction” opens Friday, March 20 at Landmark Century and Renaissance Highland Park. A clip is below
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.