El Violin

El Violin


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Although initially striking notes of dischord which you fear won't resolve into a recognisable tune, once El Violin gets going its song is catchy, even though it is drenched in melancholy.

Initial confusing scenes of a brutal - yet mostly implied - interrogation and rape give way to the meat of the story - that of three generations of men in one family, Grandad Don Plutarco (Don Angel Tavira), his son Genaro (Gerardo Taracena) and grandson Lucio (Mario Garibaldi) are impoverished Mexicans, plying their music at local towns.

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One-handed Plutarco is still nimble with a bow, while his son is nimbly attempting to dodge the authorities as he helps guerillas to oppose the Mexican military in the Mexican peasant revolts of the 1970s.

When their village is struck by a military attack, Genaro tries to come up with a plan to rescue contraband munitions from under the noses of the guards, while Plutarco has his own plan for reaching the village and bullets unnoticed - trying to get 'under the radar' by playing his violin to the camp's Captain (Dagoberto Gama).

Shot simply and starkly by Francisco Vargas Quevedo - who adapted the film from an earlier short - the black and white styling loves Don Angel Tavira. His face bears the marks of decades of sun and his quiet stoicism holds the movie together. The violin, too, makes a lovely metaphor, as an object which is simultaneously powerful yet holds a fragile beauty that could be easily destroyed.

The monochrome scheme also helps audiences to watch those few acts of brutality on show in full - where a full colour palette might result in us shielding our eyes. By relying more on glances and movement to tell the story than dialogue, Vargas ratchets up the tension as we root for the old man in the face of what appear to be overwhelming odds.

Although it gets off to a slow and slightly confusing start, once El Violin finds its rhythm it scores heavily as a mood-driven character exploration of the nature of familial love, duty, conflict and its impact on the innocent.

Reviewed on: 03 Mar 2007
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El Violin packshot
An old violinist tries to help his son's guerrilla faction.
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Director: Francisco Vargas Quevedo

Writer: Francisco Vargas Quevedo

Starring: Don Angel Tavira, Gerardo Taracena, Dagoberto Gama, Octavio Castro, Mario Garibaldi

Year: 2006

Runtime: 98 minutes

Country: Mexico

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