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The Red Violin

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Red Violin

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Greta Scacchi
Director: Fracois Girard
Rated: NR
RunTime: 128 Minutes
Release Date: June 1999
Genres: Drama, Foreign, Music

*Also starring: Carlo Cecchi, Jean-Luc Bideau, Sylvia Chang, Colm Feore, Jason Flemyng, Irene Grazioli, Christoph Koncz

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

Francois Girard's stirring, sumptuous epic follows the turbulent, if convoluted, journey of a legendary violin, famous for its perfect acoustics and unusual reddish hue. Up for auction in Canada, the stringed instrument has traveled around the globe for more than 300 years when an American expert (Samuel L. Jackson) is summoned to authenticate its worth. Created by a 17th century Italian, Nicolo Bussotti (Carlo Cecchi), as a legacy of love for his unborn son, the violin becomes an embodiment of his grief when his beloved wife Anna (Irene Grazioli) and child die in childbirth. Mysteriously, a Tarot-card reader has predicted a long, nomadic, adventure-packed life for Anna, coupling her fate to the future "life" of the Red Violin. As the intriguing story evolves, the spell of the violin seems to bewitch the lives of its various owners. It travels to monastic Austria, where it goes to a six year-old child prodigy. In England, it falls into the decadent hands of a Byronic musician (Jason Flemyng) who uses it in his flamboyant courtship of a volatile novelist (Greta Scacchi). From there, it's brought to Shanghai, where it winds up as a treasured artifact in the midst of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Finally, Chinese authorities send it to the auction hall in modern-day Montreal, where eager bidders, descendants and friends of the people it has touched, are obsessed with acquiring the instrument. The mystery, of course, is who will wind up with this fabled masterpiece? Although the pace and quality of the sprawling flashback episodes differ greatly, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Red Violin" is an exquisite, captivating 9. It's a sweeping, cinematic symphony, a unique combination of classical and contemporary, both in music and imagery.

Copyright 1998 Susan Granger

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