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The Saddest Music in the World

The Saddest Music in the World (2003)

tomatometer

78

Average Rating: 7.1/10
Reviews Counted: 101
Fresh: 79 | Rotten: 22

Guy Maddin perfectly recreates the look and feel of a 1930s in this bizarre picture.

77

Average Rating: 6.9/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 23 | Rotten: 7

Guy Maddin perfectly recreates the look and feel of a 1930s in this bizarre picture.

audience

79

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 6,687

My Rating

Movie Info

Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin directs The Saddest Music in the World, reworked from an original screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro. Set in Winnipeg during the Great Depression, the film involves a contest announced by the legless and glamorous Lady Port-Huntly (Isabella Rossellini) to find the saddest music in the world. She's hoping the contest will result in increased sales of her company's brand of beer. American theatrical producer Chester Kent (Mark McKinney) shows up to win the contest with his

Nov 16, 2004

$0.6M

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All Critics (109) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (79) | Rotten (22) | DVD (10)

Watch this movie for its imagination, not its logic.

June 18, 2004 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Silly, sick and surreal, it's a triumph of style over message or entertainment value.

June 18, 2004 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
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The weirdest movie of the summer. OK, the year.

June 18, 2004 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

From time to time during the 99-minute running time, I kept thinking of those old Off Off Broadway impositions on wriggly audiences -- or was it just me who was the transplanted Village square trapped among all the hipsters?

June 6, 2004
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Provocative title, provocative premise, provocative direction, routine movie.

June 3, 2004 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

To fully appreciate the lunatic possibilities of the film medium, consider the spectacle of Isabella Rossellini frisking around on hollow glass legs filled with sparkling beer.

June 3, 2004 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film's expressionist style and lighting design provide it with an immaculate richness of visual textures.

June 10, 2009 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

Here is magic-realism filtered through an oddball sensibility, chilled in the snowdrifts of Winnipeg and bottled in amber-hued frames of celluloid.

July 2, 2007
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

Crammed with cinephilic allusion and rendered in an obsessive "authentic" period style...

January 29, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The finest portrayal of a double-amputee beer baroness outfitted with glass-encased, beer-filled legs that I could imagine.

January 26, 2005 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

One of those metaphoric weird-out flicks that takes mors pride in shocking than telling an interesting tale.

December 17, 2004 | Comment (1)

When a director's "primitive" style is as developed as Maddin's, your aesthetic response can seem like all the emotion you need, his thrill your thrill.

November 19, 2004 Full Review Source: Blogcritics.org
Blogcritics.org

Requires an acquired taste for such inspired but unwieldy madness.

November 17, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A Guy Maddin film is so visually inventive, so full of rich detail, and so prismatic in appearance that attempting to describe it is like trying to explain the color blue.

November 16, 2004 Full Review Source: Not Coming to a Theater Near You
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Guy Maddin's snow globe cinema, hermetically sealed in ghostly adoration of silent cinema, is well matched to this darkly comic fable.

November 4, 2004 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Vital and delirious, The Saddest Music in the World hurtles along on twin tracks of vaudevillian humor and gleeful bad taste.

September 12, 2004 Full Review
Las Vegas Mercury

...a little bit like what Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle might have been without the illusions of grandeur or pretentious aftertaste.

August 30, 2004 Full Review Source: Weekly Planet (Tampa, FL)

The best film of 2004. A throwback in more than just its look, Guy Maddin's latest brings new life to the melodrama.

July 22, 2004 Full Review Source: Flak Magazine
Flak Magazine

Chances are that those who haven't bolted for the door after the first 15 minutes will love it; others could be driven to drink.

July 16, 2004 Full Review Source: RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland)

Offers idiosyncrasy in spades.

July 2, 2004 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

Greil Marcus has described the folk and "race" records of the 1920s and 30s as expressions of "the old, weird America." Guy Maddin seems obsessed with "the old, weird cinema."

July 2, 2004
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

The effect is so distancing that all but the most adventurous filmgoer will have trouble sitting through all 100 minutes of it.

June 25, 2004 Full Review Source: Las Vegas Weekly
Las Vegas Weekly

Maddin seems to have picked up a loose string from somewhere in cinematic history and started knitting a tapestry of an entirely original design.

June 24, 2004 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

Shake this snow globe, and after the swirling stops, there's nothing to see.

June 19, 2004 Full Review Source: Orlando Weekly
Orlando Weekly

Maddin's novel filmic imagination is exceeded only by his sense of superiority to his source material.

June 18, 2004 Full Review Source: Boulder Weekly

Audience Reviews for The Saddest Music in the World

A legless Canadian beer magnate (Isabella Rosselini) holds a contest during the Great Depression to discover the titular music; the bout attracts a musical family with a very odd and twisted history. Very funny if you can get past the need for everything to make absolute sense; Guy Maddin continues his visual experiments in recreating the look and feel of movies from the 20s and early 30s, yet this may be his most accessible and mainstream story.
October 23, 2011
366weirdmovies
Greg S

Super Reviewer

I haven't viewed much of Guy Maddin's work, but after seeing THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD, I'm not in any hurry too. I really liked the setting, plot, and Isabella Rossellini, but the dialogue is terrible and the weird for weird's sake approach to the material is almost nausiating.
June 2, 2008
YLOWBSTARDreturns

Super Reviewer

Five words: Isabella Rossellini Glass Beer Legs. I turely imaginative and funny story about broken hearts, revenge and capitalism.
January 16, 2008
RCCLBC
Robert C

Super Reviewer

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

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