The Red Violin (1998)



Directed by: François Girard
Written by: Don McKellar, François Girard
Starring: Carlo Cecchi, Jean-Luc Bideau and Christoph Koncz

In The Red Violin, a beautifully crafted violin from Italy (guess what color) goes on a world tour, falling into the hands of various players who are entranced by the power of its sound and its effect on their audience. Like a series of linked short films that traverse different countries, languages and actors, The Red Violinis punctuated with moments of powerful drama, but fails to be a crowd-pleaser in its holistic plot and (quite literally) weak characters.

Still got a long way to go ...

In the present time, the widely traveled, 3 centuries old violin is up for auction. Who are its competitive bidders, and why do they want it so badly? Rewind to its creation and we meet Nicolo Buscotti – a renown craftsman who is preparing one of the finest violins he’s made for his unborn son. But when tragedy strikes, the violin is donated to an orphanage, and is given to a young prodigy whose weak heart cannot handle the passion he has for the instrument. The violin then travels with gypsies, an over-sexed composer… and so on and so forth.

While the surprising randomness of the violin’s fate is central to the array of places, people and stories we encounter, The Red Violin’s constant movement and investment in themes rather than characters renders the plot directionless and well… unexciting. I mean, we are following the life of an inanimate object after all. Never with any character long enough to see depth or significance in their experience of the violin, The Red Violin centers its entire premise around an object that no amount of beautiful, stirring classical music can make compelling.


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