The Red Violin

Director Francois Girard had better watch out: He's carved a niche crafting arty films for the classical music crowd, but the rapturous emotion of music is notoriously difficult to capture. THIRTY-TWO SHORT FILMS ABOUT GLENN GOULD worked gloriously, but Girard's new film plays like so much pretentious pap. Girard structures the film around, yes, a violin...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

Reviewed by Sandra Contreras
Rating:

Director Francois Girard had better watch out: He's carved a niche crafting arty films for the classical music crowd, but the rapturous emotion of music is notoriously difficult to capture. THIRTY-TWO SHORT FILMS ABOUT GLENN GOULD worked gloriously, but

Girard's new film plays like so much pretentious pap. Girard structures the film around, yes, a violin that passes through various hands, starting in 17th-century Italy and ending up in contemporary Montreal. Its creator, autocratic master violin maker Nicolo Bussotti (Carlo Cecchi) is a nasty

perfectionist whose bad karma catches up with him: He crafts a perfect instrument for his unborn son, but his lovely wife (Irene Grazioli) — whose tarot reading predicts disaster before the cards are scattered by the fateful wind — perishes in childbirth. The violin, varnished a striking

red, passes to 18th century Vienna and a fatal encounter with a child prodigy (Christoph Koncz), then to 19th century England, where a brilliant but agita-afflicted composer (Jason Flemyng) nabs the violin from some gypsies and makes merry erotic music with his lover (Greta Scacchi). By the

time we get through the Pope vignette, which comes to a risible, high-Romantic flourish, Girard and co-writer Don McKellar's ludicrous intellectual antics have become obvious and tedious: The period flashbacks to the tarot reading (is there any worse symbol for the vagaries of fate?) are

particularly god-awful. In case you're wondering what Samuel L. Jackson is doing here, he's implausibly cast as a master appraiser who's irresistibly compelled to heist the violin. The film's style vacillates between fancy Italian wine commercial and Renaissance painting: Unfortunately, Girard and

his collaborators are so focused on the stunning tableaux that all other considerations fall by the wayside, leaving their visual achievements — miraculous on such a small budget — mired in the elaborate but maladroit storytelling.

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Director Francois Girard had better watch out: He's carved a niche crafting arty films for the classical music crowd, but the rapturous emotion of music is notoriously difficult to capture. THIRTY-TWO SHORT FILMS ABOUT GLENN GOULD worked gloriously, but G… (more)

Show More »

Trending TonightSee all »