The Red Violin

The Red Violin

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

This is the story of the most perfect musical instrument, which over three centuries is buried, shot and almost burnt, as well as played by gypsies, orphanage kids, an English lord and a Chinese revolutionary before landing up in the sale room of an international fine arts auctioneer. In some ethereal way, it contains the spirit of its creator's widow.

The film cannot help but be a collection of shorts, artfully joined together and given a twist in the tail. French Canadian director, Francois Girard, works miracles to make you forget its episodic nature. The structure is so well made (the exception being the English section, with Jason Flemyng and Greta Scacchi, which flies off on an absurd Edwardian melodramatic tangent), you may be forgiven for being dazzled by the geometry of its architecture.

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Central to the plot's adhesion is the modern auction, which Girard uses as a tease throughout the film, constantly returning to it, introducing the bidders and raising the tension. A man called Moritz seems to be up to something. He is the expert who confirms the violin's authenticity. Played by Samuel L Jackson, he adds an element of mystery to the charmed life of this priceless artefact.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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The adventurous life of a priceless musical instrument.
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Director: Francois Girard

Writer: Francois Girard, Don McKellar

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Francois Girard, Carlo Cecchi, Jason Flemyng, Greta Scacchi

Year: 1998

Runtime: 131 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Canada/Italy

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