January 4th: The Red Violin

red_violin_ver2

Release Date: 1998
Director: François Girard
Why I picked this: Recommendation from a friend

This movie follows the journey of a red violin through five different eras and different countries, starting from 1681 Cremona all the way to 1997 Montreal. Two different framing devices are used: tarot cards from a character are used to announce what emotion or future occurrence will be prominent in a segment, and constant flashes to 1997, where the violin is being sold at an auction. The five segments together work as a decent movie, but some of the segments are significantly weaker than the others. The 1793 Vienna segment, following an orphan who owns the violin taken under the wing of a violin instructor for an audition, is my favorite, and the only one, I feel, with a satisfying ending. As for the others, I found it hard to care about any of the characters and their ultimate fates. Some segments I thought ended abruptly. I found casting Samuel L. Jackson in the 1997 segment as a violin expert to be strange. Jackson has more acting range than people credit him for, but putting him in a movie about violins is like giving a toddler a rocket launcher. The film is very well shot, but I found my favorite aspect of the movie to be the music itself. My favorite segments were the transitions, showing the violin being passed down and played by various people.

Maybe give the soundtrack a listen, but I found this movie to be unsatisfactory for my liking.

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