There aren’t a lot of times when I get to write a glowing review of a film. Many times the film is good, but not good enough for me to rave about. The Red Violin though, is a film that I can talk about for a long time to come. This review is going to absolutely glow because although many films have high aims like The Red Violin, not many of them actually reach them. The Red Violin aims high and scores.
What drives The Red Violin is an inanimate object, a red violin. The film revolves around a violin that is “the single most perfect acoustical machine.” The film itself has many characters and jumps between different time periods, each following the journey of the Red Violin. The violin starts off with its maker, Nicolo Bussotti, in Cremona, Italy, in 1681. From here the journey reaches far and wide. The violin passes through many hands and it experiences many human stories.
The intriguing thing about the film is how it drew me in. The story of the violin is quite straightforward, but the film uses many techniques to reveal different aspects of the violin. The one aspect of the film that ties everything together is the violin auction, which is taking place in the present day. The filmmakers slowly unravel the stories of the violin and use them to tie together the past with the present. Although one can watch this film casually, they would be missing the different layers of the film. The Red Violin is definitely a film to be watched carefully. There are so many things that click into place when the filmmakers unravel the story that a second viewing is almost a must in order to fully appreciate the film.
What good is a Red Violin without music? The music in The Red Violin, well, is music to the ears. The score is written by John Corigliano and features Joshua Bell as the violin solo. The music in the film is just like the film itself: near perfect. And, it is interesting to see how the music ties in with the action onscreen.
Anyone who’s followed my reviews knows that I’m a big fan of Samuel L. Jackson. And although his name was the big draw for me to this film, I was surprised as to how little screen time he had and how this lack of screen time did not bother me. Jackson, when on screen, steals every scene - like he does with all movies he’s in. But, it is also the others in this large cast that make the film as perfect as it is. Every actor in the film turns in a wonderful performance. Kudos to everyone in the film.
Kudos also to writer Don McKeller and co-writer and director François Girard for putting together such a wonderful film that is not a standard formula film. And a film that is not afraid to be cerebral.
It is hard to find a film like The Red Violin nowadays since everything coming out of Hollywood seems to have a need to follow a patented and proven formula (I’m sure there are many equation books in Hollywood showing how to put together a blockbuster). The Red Violin might not have been a blockbuster, but it is definitely a great film and like the object of the film, this movie is the single most perfect film I’ve seen lately. Don’t Miss The Red Violin. You can find it on video and on DVD.