The Red Violin (Le violon rouge) Reviews
It's hard to judge a film in which the main character is a violin. The characters who could give the film life are the people who own the violin at different places and historical moments, but their transience in the violin's "life" make it difficult to attach ourselves to their plights. And the fortune-teller reading the violin's future is clever for about ten seconds. Also, it's never fully revealed what Charles's motives are; is there any care that he could offer the violin that other suitors can't?
The score is quite good, and a project that spans five languages and four countries is admirably ambitious.
Overall, the main character being a violin didn't work for me, but I admire the effort.
A very good story that spans several centuries, telling the story of a number of characters in relation to a particular musical instrument, a red violin, an instrument constructed perfectly, but also cursed to bring some kind of harm to almost anyone who comes into contact with it.
As stated, the movie spans over 300 years. We see the violin's creation in the 1680s and where it ends up in the 1990s. Between this time we are given about five stories, each in a different time period. For example, one involves a skilled musician in Oxford, who becomes consumed by writing music with the violin, so much so, his life eventually deteriorates.
All of the stories are somewhat threaded together by the present day narrative, taking place at an auction house where it will be sold to a willing enough bidder. It is here that we see a role from Sam Jackson, which is always welcome.
As interesting and well handled as the story is, and as good looking as the film is, much of the joy comes from the score of the film, which won an Oscar. It is of course fully composed by violins, centering around a main theme that plays in each story.
At over two hours, there is certainly a lot of movie here, with a somewhat slow progression, but even then, the story, which moves around in terms of its time, works well enough at revealing various elements and does so in a fairly clever manner.
Charles Morritz: Yes, I'm coming back soon, and I have a present for you. Something very special.
Though The Red Violin does a great job connecting the many cultures featured in this film (better than Babel, even), there are some aspects of the writing that don't sit particularly well. Something about the plot seems very...pat. None of the characters are very involving, and there's little sense of loss throughout the course of the movie. Though a lot of tragedy befalls the handful of protagonists we see, none of it is very effective. Perhaps it's because we don't spend much time with them, but I think The Red Violin is afraid to add edge to the cruelties of life. It is entertaining, harmless, but not involving. The ending is also a total stinker; frustrating for all the wrong reasons and totally out of left field.
If the plot had a little more potency, The Red Violin would be a memorable and epic experience. In its current state, it is an interesting glimpse into several different cultures, juxtaposed with some truly incredible music. Though a good movie in its own right, I can't help but feel that it didn't meet the standards it set for itself.
And even though, Jackson is probably the most famous of the ensemble cast, he is still but one in an ensemble cast that, no matter which character role any of theses actors have in The Red Violin,
the movie is strong enough for any of 'em to be proud to have this work included in their filmography.