I’ve finally heard an explanation as to why Mozart and the Whale costars Josh Hartnett and Radha Mitchell didn’t show up for the Santa Barbara Film Festival screening a month ago. The no-shows, I’ve been told, were basically about giving a fuck-you message to Avi Lerner, the film’s Israeli producer. The principals are angry because Lerner apparently wasn’t happy with a longer and allegedly better cut of Whale and, being the big-cheese producer, had it re-cut it into the shorter version I saw in Santa Barbara. I happened to enjoy and admire what I saw (as did Variety’s Todd McCarthy), but the longer version is said to have been a fuller, worthier film. I called Lerner’s office this afternoon to get his side of it, but neither he nor his assistant were available and no call-backs. My Mozart review called it “a Rain Man-type love story with a jumpy heart…jumpy as in child-like, energetic, anxious. A romanticized, tidied-up version of a complicated real-life love story, Mozart is nervy and provocative in more ways than one. Not calming or swoony like other love stories because the lovers are always in a fairly hyper and unsettled state, which feels a bit challenging, Mozart and the Whale nonetheless seems real and fairly honest and is obviously on a wavelength all its own. At first you’re thinking it needs a regular-guy character (like Tom Cruise‘s selfish prick in Rainman) to provide stability and perspective, but then you get used to the manic energy of it. And then you start enjoying more and more the vigorous cutting and the funky European-style tone (Norway’s Petter Naess directed), and particularly Hartnett and Mitchell’s performances, which feel wired and fresh and unlike anything I’ve ever gotten, tonally, from a love story before. I guess this pogo-stick element isn’t striking a chord with very many others since Mozart and the Whale has been having difficulty finding a distributor.”