: : : The Red Violin

Story

Mounted in high lavish style, from the opening strains to coda, The Red Violin pays homage to the careful uses of color and composition without bothering to support these qualities with any real substance. Oh, it's a class act on the surface all the way, while failing on nearly every other level to convince. The story tells the story, revealing precious little else. The 17th-century Cremonese instrument-maker Niccolo Bussotti finishes his final violin with a curious red varnish, the secret of which spans the film, yet will come as a surprise only to the very sleepy. The odd voyage of this unique violin through history is then explored from one episode to the next, from child prodigy to gypsies to Victorian virtuoso to a clandestine enclave of art lovers in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution. This is all framed by the violin's rediscovery in present day by instrument appraiser Charles Morritz (Samuel L. Jackson), for whom the perfect instrument strikes a resonant chord. The main scheme of the film, an object connecting a number of seemingly disparate stories, has been used many times, most notably in Max Ophuls's La Ronde. But while this approach is employed elsewhere to cause one scene to reverberate against another, The Red Violin is content to leave each episode thematically unconnected with any of the others. On the decorative level, the film may satisfy many viewers with its sensuous attention to tone and detail, as well as its eclectic and expertly performed score. But as narrative it is very slight. Just pierce the pretty crust of this puff pastry and gaze in wonder at the pocket of air within. --Jim Gay

Cast

Carlo CecchiNicolo Bussotti
Christoph KonczKaspar Weiss
Johannes SilberschneiderFather Richter
Jason FlemyngFrederick Pope
Greta ScacchiVictoria Byrd
Samuel L. JacksonCharles Morritz
Colm FeoreAuctioneer
Don McKellarEvan Williams
Julian RichingsNicolas Olsberg
Russell YuenOlder Ming
Sandra OhMadame Ming
Rémy GirardCustoms Agent

  • Genre: Drama Movies
  • Director: Fran?s Girard
  • Producer: TriMark
  • Length: 131 min
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
  • Theatrical Release
    North AmericaJun 11, 1999
  • Ratings
    North AmericaR
    Europe15
    AustraliaM
  • DVD Release
    North AmericaJun 3, 2008
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8.8 / 10
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