Bel Canto

Critics Consensus

Bel Canto's reach occasionally exceeds its ambitious grasp in terms of juggling themes and tones, but it's held together by palpable emotion and a pair of strong leads.



Total Count: 69


Audience Score

User Ratings: 119
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Movie Info

Based on Ann Patchett's best-selling novel, BEL CANTO is a dramatic love story that follows a famous soprano (Julianne Moore) who travels to a military dictatorship in South America to give a private concert at a party for a wealthy Japanese industrialist (Ken Watanabe). Just as the glittering gathering of diplomats and politicians convenes, the mansion is taken over by a guerrilla rebel group demanding the release of their imprisoned comrades. Threats are made, lives are lost, a tense negotiation begins, and a month long standoff ensues. While they are confined to the house, the hostages and their captors, who speak different languages, are forced to find ways to communicate. Music, especially the beautiful arias performed by Moore's character, a songbird in captivity, sparks a shared sense of comradeship and even love, uniting the disparate housemates as they form unexpected bonds, overcome their differences, and discover their shared humanity.


Julianne Moore
as Roxanne Coss
Ken Watanabe
as Katsumi Hosokawa
Christopher Lambert
as Simon Thibault
Thorbjørn Harr
as Christopf

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Critic Reviews for Bel Canto

All Critics (69) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (33) | Rotten (36)

  • Stinky is the only word to describe this earnest thriller in which a famous American opera singer learns life lessons (and gets jiggy) in a hostage crisis.

    Apr 28, 2019 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • It's the world-famous soprano Renée Fleming, and Moore is lip-syncing. And the effect is horrific. It's like a drag act, but not. And it's the final nail in the coffin of sweet intention and witless execution.

    Apr 26, 2019 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • It's overripe and improbable, but you'd need a flinty heart to resist the message of solidarity, that if you spend time with someone, anyone, you'll find common ground.

    Apr 25, 2019 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Cath Clarke

    Top Critic
  • Watanabe and Moore acquit themselves well (although the latter's lip-syncing is questionable), but Bel Canto falls short of the operatic notes Weitz attempts to hit.

    Oct 25, 2018 | Full Review…
  • The climax, almost lyrical in its brutality, packs an emotional punch that will leave audiences breathless.

    Oct 25, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • No one loves or dies without purpose in this searing and artful film.

    Sep 20, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Bel Canto

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